Sewage shock for families

Lee Matcheswala, Claire Matcheswala and two month old Zachary survey the sewage moat surrounding their home.
Lee Matcheswala, Claire Matcheswala and two month old Zachary survey the sewage moat surrounding their home.

A RAPIDLY rising moat of raw sewage surging around their homes was a nasty surprise for residents of Crawford Gardens, Horsham, last Friday morning.

The overflow occurred after heavy rain on the night of Thursday August 25 caused a blockage of the main drain in Kings Road.

Sewage seeped into Crawford Gardens, a nearby cul-de-sac, collecting in large pools by front doors and in gardens and garages.

Angry residents complained that it was the third such incident in a week.

Southern Water had been called out to deal with another spill days earlier, only for the sewage to reappear on Friday morning as soon as the rain returned.

“They want their backsides kicking,” said affected resident Bob Marsh, telling the County Times of his anger with Southern Water. “It’s so frustrating - we should have had this sorted weeks ago.”

Claire Matcheswala, who lives in Crawford Gardens with husband Lee, said she was worried about the health of their two young children.

“It’s disgusting. We’re at our wits’ end. We’ve got a two-year-old and a six-month-old - they could get seriously ill,” she said.

“I will have to wade through raw sewage to pick up my child from nursery later on.”

She also felt Southern Water’s response had been inadequate after it took the company almost three hours to begin to fix the latest spill.

“They told us ‘We’ll get there when we get there’ which is not on,” said Claire. “There was no sense of urgency.”

Husband Lee said the repeated incidents had clear public health implications.

“We can’t leave our own house without wading through other people’s waste,” he said. “Southern Water have dealt with this with utter complacency. It’s the lack of action that is so concerning.”

The couple said their neighbours were on holiday, completely unaware that their garage was awash with foul smelling water.

Some of those living in Crawford Gardens also complained that Southern Water do not sanitise their properties properly.

They say that after the sewage subsides, company workers hose away the dirt from the concrete yards but residents’ plants and grass remain soiled.

Elsa Tucker, 76, of Kings Road, woke to find her toilet close to overflowing with dirty water.

“I live on my own so I was a bit frightened,” she said. “I thought ‘Please stop’. The water was only two inches from the top of the toilet but after an hour and a half it went down again luckily.

“I wish they’d sort the problem out once and for all,” she added.

A Southern Water spokesman said: “A clean up operation of all areas affected by the overflow has been completed and arrangements have been made to monitor the system.

“We’d like to apologise to our customers for the disruption caused by this unforeseen incident.”