Thames Water apologises for sewage overflow at Harpenden church

The car park of All Saints Church

The car park of All Saints Church - Credit: Archant

There are fears that sewage which recently overflowed into a church garden in Harpenden not only posed a public health risk, but also threatened a nearby stream.

A stream which runs behind All Saints Church and into Batford Springs

A stream which runs behind All Saints Church and into Batford Springs - Credit: Archant

Linda Williams, vicar of All Saints’ district church, Station Road in Batford, spoke out after foul-smelling wastewater gushed yet again from a grate in the car park, and into a flower bed last Thursday (21).

She said the problem stemmed not from the church but further up the sewerage system, particularly when there was a blockage.

Linda explained: “All the flowers are covered in raw sewage. It ends up going into Batford Springs. It’s an ongoing problem, but no one has really responded to it.

“I’ve asked Thames Water to investigate, as they could be fined if it contaminates Batford, but we get little response other than them cleaning the sewage up. They don’t do anything to solve the problem.”

She added: “It goes into the flower bed, across the car park and into Batford Springs.”

There is a stream behind the church, which is adjacent to the Batford Springs nature reserve.

Most Read

Linda said: “It costs us money, as we had to cancel childrens’ activities planned for the day. There was a pre-school singing group - Tiny Tots Tunes, and Rainbow Guides which had to be cancelled.”

Last year after a major overflow, All Saints’ officials were forced to use old benches and pieces of wood to deflect sewage, which was covering the car park, away from the church.

Linda said: “Thames Water hasn’t done anything to stop this. In the 21st century it is not acceptable to have raw sewage floating around.”

A spokeswoman for Thames Water apologised to the church for the flooding.

An engineer was sent to the site to investigate the problem, and “a lot” of fat and scale had since been removed.

The spokeswoman said a CCTV survey has also been carried out inside the pipes, the results of which were being reviewed.

She said: “If they reveal that further work is needed then we’ll arrange for this to happen.

“Blockages caused by a build-up of fat and grease is a common problem we face. Fat should never be put down the drains as it congeals into disgusting ‘fatbergs’ that block our sewers. We’re trying to educate our customers to bin it, don’t block it.”