RESIDENTS in a Ryedale village are demanding action to prevent them from being repeatedly swamped by sewage.
The issue came to a head last week when the road into Brawby was cut off to cars and normal vehicles and only accessible by tractors or 4x4 after the village flooded and drains backed up – leaving residents to live with and wade through contaminated floodwater in the streets for five days.
The water was eventually pumped away by emergency services on Friday afternoon but the incident has led to renewed calls and a public outcry to solve the ongoing problem which has seen sewage flood into the village five times since September.
Brawby resident Simon Thackray says the main cause of the problem is the antiquated drains and Waste Water Treatment Works that fails every time there is normal heavy rain and sends sewage and water back into the village street. The problem has existed for years but the fault has been continually neglected by Yorkshire Water.
The situation has been compounded by the failure of Yorkshire Water to maintain a nearby ditch which would normally retain the floodwater. The ditch has not been cleaned out since 2003 (copy of invoice attached).
Mr Thackray claims the problem at Brawby’s treatment works is well known to Yorkshire Water. He has spoken to several of its engineers - one of whom has been seen on film by the Mercury saying “It has been like this for years. It needs knocking down” - and having acquired a copy of the records which show the number of times the site has been visited and the frequency with which the system has broken down and failed to operate correctly since 1997.
The Mercury itself visited the site on Monday which had been left unlocked and open to the public.
The site’s 480 volt main isolator was protected by a plastic bag secured by gaffer tape while a box of chemical cleaner, labelled as a poison, lay nearby. Condoms, sanitary towels and other waste lay strewn across the flood ditch just outside of the compound.
“The plant needs decommissioning,” said Mr Thackray. “This problem has been ongoing for years. If they want to cure it, why don’t they make it into a pump station and send all the waste to Great Barugh which has an under utilised station.”
Such is the anger felt by the village, that last night’s parish meeting was expected to be standing room only with Ryedale’s district councillors and other interested parties were due to debate the issue.
In the short term, Mr Thackray wants an emergency pump to be left permanently on site until Yorkshire Water and other agencies get together and solve the problem. In the long term, the only solution, he believes, is to pump waste to the station at Great Barugh.
“The amount of money I believe they have spent on this facility in the last 10 years would have resolved Brawby’s ongoing problem and may be some other villages as well, so why do they invest money in maintaining something that is broken and functioning illegally instead of investing some good money in solving the problem? I think it is for Yorkshire Water to explain and the other agencies that are in authority to make sure Yorkshire Water fulfil their legal obligation.
He added: “We are not asking for compensation, we are not targeting individuals or individual organisations but we do wish for these people to behave honestly. Unfortunately, the situation in Brawby has come about because of years of neglect and that is a red rag to a bull.
“I think Yorkshire Water are now in a hole and they should stop digging. They are in it up to their neck, and we all know what’s in the water!”
A spokesman for Yorkshire Water said an investigation into the issues at Brawby and other all areas surrounding Ryedale in the past week will looked at as part of a multi-agency investigation into the flooding.