By Ursula Duddy

Flooding from underground pipes has been causing raw sewage to spew up around houses in Derry.

Residents in the Knockalla Park area of Derry have experienced problems over a number of years when there is heavy rainfall.

They have experienced flooding from the drainage and some homes have even had raw sewage pushed up into their back gardens.

One elderly resident with health concerns left her property temporarily due to fears over the raw sewage in her garden.

However, the closest accommodation she could secure was at a shelter in Omagh.

Damien McShane, who has lived in the estate for four years, said that it has been an ‘ongoing problem’.

“NI Water were working constantly pumping but the pump broke down over the weekend and the raw sewage came up again.

“The water always gathers in the grass with the heavy rain, the seagulls can even float in it.

“But when the pump was going it wasn’t gathering.

“It must be a drain that is backing up and it’s causing problems for the estate and there’s a bad smell.

“One elderly lady, who also has some health issues, had to move out of her house.

“They had to get a digger to clear the raw sewage out of her back garden and disinfect it. The people at the bottom of Knockalla are worst affected.”

A spokesperson for NI Water said that they have now identified the cause of the problem.

“NI Water staff have been working tirelessly at the Knockalla estate to resolve an ongoing out-of-sewer flooding issue,” the spokesperson said.

“NI Water representatives have been on site liaising with residents and local elected representatives since Friday 4 August and we continue to provide a clean-up operation where necessary.

‘‘This situation has arisen as a result of a blockage, which NI Water believes to be caused by a large concrete object in the sewer.

“To date, we have only been able to partially clear this blockage using high pressure jetting equipment and robotic cutting equipment.

“Excavation to carry out the repair is not possible due to the proximity of a private dwelling, therefore work has commenced to divert a section of sewer pipe in an alternative route.

“We aim to have this complete before the end of August.

‘‘At this stage, it is not possible to provide the cost of rectifying this problem.

“NI Water is grateful to customers in the area for their patience while this incident is resolved.

“Anyone with additional queries or concerns should contact NI Water via Waterline by dialling 03457 440088.’’

Tony Hassan, Sinn Féin councillor for the area, said the situation has gone on a number of years in heavy rainfall but commended NI Water in commencing extensive works, now that the problem has been identified.

“This problem has occurred so many times over the last few years; it happens every time there is heavy rainfall and people can’t live in these circumstances,” he said.

“However, I do commend NI Water as this is a major operation that is going to cost a couple of hundred thousand. It has happened because someone built an unauthorised building on top of a manhole, causing these problems.

“I would urge people not to build any structures over manholes.”

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