Storms caused sewage to flow into Maddiston homes and gardens

Maddiston residents have been left dejected after flash floods brought sewage surging into their homes and gardens.

By Jonathon Reilly
Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd September 2020, 3:22 pm

Last month’s lightning and thunderstorms caused major damage to a number of cottages in the village’s Main Road and Vellore Road, as wastewater burst through drains and destroyed everything from huts and carpets to toys and record collections.

One homeowner told how the water reached the height of car roofs in some parts.

Sadly for many of those who live in the area, the issue of sewage streaming into their property after heavy rainfall is nothing new.

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John Erskine and partner Arlene Boles, of flood-hit Fairview Cottage in Maddiston with Shirley Erskine, who had previously lived in the property. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Residents believe a lack of upgrading to the area’s sewer network is to blame for what they claim is a decades-old problem.

Arlene Boles and John Erskine, of Fairview Cottage in Main Road, looked on with horror as their garden rapidly filled with waste.

Arlene said: “We’ve got a playhouse for our wee girl and it’s covered in sewage. It’s wasting kids’ toys.

“It keeps overflowing and bubbling up the toilet and in the bath. It’s running into our garage.

Former community councillor Jacqueline McDevitt, of Magdalene Cottage, Maddiston. Picture: Michael Gillen. .

“We phoned Scottish Water three times last month. My mother-in-law stayed in this house before us and it’s probably been a problem for more than 30 years.

“The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Scottish Water say they can’t do anything because it’s not contaminating the burn.

“When we had the thunder and lightning my partner had to lift the lid off the drainage and put rods down. If he didn’t, it was coming into the house.

"It’s going into other people’s gardens behind us. The last time we had sanitary towels lying in the garden.”

June Birnie and Jim Morrell, of Harmony Cottage, Maddiston, are seeking reimbursements for the damage done to their home by flooding and wastewater. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Jacqueline McDevitt, of nearby Magdalene Cottage, was awoken in the early hours to a foot-and-a-half of water around her home.

Jacqueline, who has lived in her home for 30 years, insists the issue has become so bad she won’t let her grandchildren play in her garden.

She said: “It was a river roundabout the house. It’s happened before but it’s never been quite as bad as that.

“Seventeen years ago the water was over the roofs of cars and it was the same this time.

Sewage flooding damaged property, gardens, garages and children's toys in Main Road, Maddiston. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“One neighbour has the main drain in his garden and sewage is left lying in our gardens.

“Until earlier this year I was a community councillor and the council know they’re putting too much pressure on the drains with the new house buildings.

“They’ve increased the amount of houses feeding into the sewers but the sewers haven’t been replaced for a very long time; someone said it was maybe about 50 years.

“There’s also a planning application for 70 houses at the old fire station site.”

Jim Morrell and June Birnie, of Harmony Cottage, say the extent of the damage done to their home has left them unsure how much it will cost to fix it.

Jim said: “The water is going into the extension in the bottom half of the house and it’s ruined our carpet.

Various items were ruined when wastewater burst through drains in Main Road, Maddiston in August. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“The water got into our hut and a few things were damaged. The grass is ruined and we’re going to have to re-turf it.

“We’ve only been here for six-and-a-half years but seemingly the same thing happened nine years ago. The sewage just bubbles up.

“We’ve not heard much from the council. I sent them a text and they said it’s in hand but nobody has appeared.

“I’ll just need to be hopeful it can be resolved.”

A spokesman for the local authority said: “Several locations across Falkirk Council area have been identified as being vulnerable to flood risk and we are aware of flooding incidents in the vicinity of these individual properties.

“While the primary responsibility for avoiding or managing flood risk lies with land and property owners, certain public bodies take a proactive role in managing and, where achievable, lowering the overall flood risk.

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“We provide landowners with advice on flood prevention and watercourse management, and continue to work with all relevant agencies to manage flood risk.”

A Scottish Water spokeswoman said: “We have arranged for an urgent CCTV survey to be carried out on the sewer network in this area to check for any blockages to see if this contributed to recent flooding.

“We will also carry out further investigation to determine if upgrading is required.

“Many parts of Scotland have recently experienced extreme rainfall and thunderstorms and we continue to work hard to maintain our sewer network to ensure it operates as it should.

“From changing climate patterns we are seeing a pattern of more frequent, very intense, short duration storm events which put drainage systems under significant pressure, with the unfortunate consequence of flooding occurring beyond Scottish Water’s control.

“We will continue to support local authorities to develop their plans for the management and reduction of flood risk from all sources including surface water flooding from intense rainfall events.”

A SEPA spokeswoman added: “Under the Flood Risk Management Act, SEPA works closely with local authorities, Scottish Water and other responsible authorities to reduce the impacts of flooding.

“SEPA is aware of several flooding issues in the Maddiston/Falkirk areas during the recent storms. The storms that took place on August 12 resulted in exceptionally intense rainfall, causing flooding in many areas.

“Our nearest rain gauge at Polmonthill recorded over 72mm of rain over a six-hour period. This is extreme and unusual, however, with climate change we are expecting intense storms to become more frequent.

“We are in contact with Falkirk Council and Scottish Water to share information regarding this most recent event to get a better understanding of all the areas impacted and will discuss what options/actions can be progressed.”

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