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Residents left for weeks without toilets and showers as drainage network fails


A Kilham resident has told the Wolds Weekly how he and his family have been without fully functioning toilet and shower facilities since late last year after spring water entered some of the main sewers and caused the drainage network in the village to fail.

Since 21st December 2023, Ken Grainger, who lives on West End, has been forced to rely on the generosity of his neighbours to go to the toilet, have a shower and wash clothes, with the inspection drainage pit in his barn still at a high level because of sewage from the mains.

He’s not the only one suffering, with more residents on West End and other areas of the village in a similar situation and still waiting for Yorkshire Water and other stakeholders to come up with a solution.

Kilham is built on underwater springs, some of which lie under residential properties, in private gardens, or on private farmland and grassland.

At time when the water levels are high, such as following heavy rainfall, the spring water rises to the surface, as is the case now and during flooding in Kilham 10 years ago.

Groundwater discharging into the streets has been a regular occurrence in Kilham for centuries, especially during the winter months.

However, residents believe that the current situation, which has seen a mix of sewage and groundwater discharge onto the streets, is unacceptable and a sign that the sewer network in the village needs to be expanded and made watertight.

After becoming concerned about the rising water levels, Ken contacted East Riding of Yorkshire Council, who sent a party, including East Wolds and Coastal Councillor Jonathan Owen, to Kilham.It was agreed that with the issues affecting large parts of the village, a call to Yorkshire Water was required.

Ken has kept a log of his communication with Yorkshire Water, which started on 21st December and despite being assured on several occasions that a pump to remove the sewage would be sent to Kilham, over a month later he and his fellow villagers are still waiting.

Kilham Spring Water Flooding – Jan 2024

The sewage problems in Ken’s property even meant he was forced to relocate his family’s Christmas plans.

“I went around the village with Councillor Owen on Thursday 21st December, and he recommended that we put a call in to Yorkshire Water,” said Ken.

“I did that the following day. The inspection pit we have for the sewage supply into the main sewer is in our barn and it was filling up, not just from our sewage, but from the main sewer.

“This meant that the main sewer, which runs in front of our property was becoming clogged.

“Yorkshire Water agreed to send a technician out and he turned up the following day and found the problem, took both manhole covers up, which were overflowing, and said he would be back the next day to divert the main sewer or arrange for a pump to extract the sewage.

“He was unable to make it to Kilham the next day but reported the blockage, which he said needed to be looked at urgently.

Nothing has happened to solve the problems, despite several complaints from those who are affected

Kilham resident – Ken Grainger

“We were expecting my son, daughter-in-law and new-born baby for Christmas, but the sewage system was still blocked, and we couldn’t really use it, which meant no toilets and showers.

“So, we had to change all our Christmas plans and we went down to Norfolk instead.

“When we came back on 29th December, we called Yorkshire Water to find out what was happening, and I asked to speak to a senior member of staff who offered no help whatsoever and suggested there was nothing that could be done as it was a force of nature.

“He said that the pump at the pumping station in the village would clean all the sewers.

“I left it until the new year, when the inspection pit was still high, therefore the pumping station wasn’t working.

“Another engineer came out on 3rd January and there wasn’t a lot he could do but he agreed that someone else needed to come out to us with a pump.

“That was supposed to be within two days, but nothing happened, and I made another phone call to Yorkshire Water to officially complain.

“The man I spoke to from the complaints team has been very good and understanding.

“The issue was escalated on 5th January, and I heard back from him the following week, and there was hope that a pump was on its way.

“But two weeks later, we are no further on despite his best efforts.”

Although frustrated with Yorkshire Water, the response from Ken’s neighbours has been much more satisfactory.

Ken and his wife have been using the shower, toilet and washing machine next-door for around a month now but with the water levels slowly receding, he hopes the facilities and appliances in his own house will be back in full working order sooner rather than later.

However, he said had the findings of a report he helped produce around 10 years, which aimed to alleviate flooding in Kilham, been acted on, the current situation could have been avoided.

“Luckily, our next-door neighbours have let us use their shower, toilet and washing machine whenever we need to,” said Ken.

“We can still use our toilet but must be very marginal on the water.

“Nothing has happened to solve the problems, despite several complaints from those who are affected.

“The surface water is slowly withdrawing but the problem is that when it goes into the main sewer, it slows it down, clogs and cannot get through to the pumping station.

“This happened 10 years ago, and I worked with East Riding of Yorkshire Council as part of a working party that examined what was going on in the village in terms of flooding.

“A report was produced, which was thorough, and the conclusion was to bring the findings to the notice of the various stakeholders.

“Yorkshire Water didn’t turn up to the last two meetings, which was indicative that they were not going to be told what to do.

“As far as I am aware, none of the recommendations have been carried out to alleviate the flooding should it happen again, which we all knew it would.

“We’re no further forward and Yorkshire Water are still stalling.”

“Yorkshire Water didn’t turn up to the last two meetings, which was indicative that they were not going to be told what to do.

“As far as I am aware, none of the recommendations have been carried out to alleviate the flooding should it happen again, which we all knew it would.

“We’re no further forward and Yorkshire Water are still stalling.”

A Yorkshire Water spokesperson said: “Groundwater levels in some parts of the East Riding are at the highest on record for this time of year.

“There are significant spring flows around Kilham and some boreholes in the area are around the highest levels recorded.

“Natural flows coming up from the high groundwater level is producing a significant amount of water, enough to cause the Old Gypsey to flow.

“This excess water is infiltrating the sewer network and affecting its operation. We understand how distressing this can be for customers and we are working hard to support people in the area and relieve pressure on the network where we can.”



Kilham Spring Water Flooding – Jan 2024
Kilham Spring Water Flooding – Jan 2024

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