Parts of London and the Thames Valley are at risk of flooding from extremely high ground water levels.
The warning from Thames Water comes as spring and river water is running directly into the sewers, which are designed to take only wastewater from homes and businesses, is putting the network under “considerable strain”. In the flooding hotspots, the water firm said it is using tanker lorries to suck our excess flows from overloaded sewers to prevent nearby properties flooding with sewage.
Richard Aylard, Sustainability Director for Thames Water, said: “While we recognise that having tanker lorries running 24/7 is not ideal, particularly on narrow country lanes, right now this is the only way to stop some of our customers’ properties flooding with wastewater from our overloaded sewers. We will continue tankering in the areas worst affected for as long as is necessary.
“Flooding tends to ease when the rain stops only to return when it rains again. That is because the underlying cause – high groundwater and full rivers – remain. This means, potentially, for the rest of the winter months, flooding-related problems could recur at flooding hotspots, particularly after any significant rainfall. We are trying our best to prioritise people most in need of help. We sympathise deeply with people affected by flooding, and we are doing everything we can to help where possible.”
The warning follows the wettest year on record in England last year, which left rivers full and the ground like a “soaked sponge” with no additional capacity to absorb further rainfall.