SIX Stafford farms are still counting the cost of this summer’s floods after raw sewage seeped onto their land.
Around 70 acres of meadow land between Baswich and Tixall Road has been blighted by the leakage in recent months. Sewage has killed grass crops needed to feed livestock and the farmers have been unable to reseed the affected land.
But despite sending numerous letters to Severn Trent Water, farmers feel their concerns have still not been addressed five months on.
A Severn Trent Water spokesperson told the Newsletter this week that the company was working with the affected landowners to tackle the problems.
But Eunice Finney, one of the farmers, said this had not been the case so far.
“Every time the River Sow floods it lifts manholes on land off Farmdown Road and manholes on the towpath of the canal nearby,” she said. “We understand the problems which arise because of the river flooding. Flooding is not the issue - it’s the contamination of the raw sewage.
“We reported the incident to Severn Trent Water and the Environment Agency, who continue to investigate. Initially when we complained to both the Environment Agency and Severn Trent in August the letters were ignored and not even acknowledged.
When we wrote again in October, with copies sent to MPs, the letters were finally acknowledged.
“Severn Trent Water has admitted that a chamber which forms part of a manhole on the land at Farmdown Road should be repaired and improved.
The Environment Agency has also requested a formal sewer survey, stating that the sewer has adequate capacity and that there is no physical requirement or permit for discharge, even in flood conditions.
“A common sense approach would suggest that Severn Trent Water have both a moral obligation and duty to ensure that this situation does not happen again.
"Their stance is not sustainable and the landowners will need to consider their next steps, which may have to include legal action to finally resolve the situation.
“The farmers believe that if they had caused river pollution in any way at all they would have been prosecuted immediately, sent to court and fined.”
Staffordshire County Council officers have carried out tests on the affected ground and the farmers have been told not to feed livestock any hay or silage made on contaminated land, Mrs Finney said.
This means farmers will have to fork out for additional winter feed for their animals, and any which have eaten contaminated hay or silage would need to be destroyed.
A Severn Trent Water spokesperson said: “We understand how deeply distressing flooding can be and sympathise with customers who have been affected by the high levels of rainfall we have seen this year.
“We’re aware that a combination of river and sewer flooding has affected farmland near Baswich Lane. This happened when the nearby river was in flood, causing the sewer system to become overwhelmed.
“We have investigated and have devised improvements that could help reduce the likelihood of river water entering the system during times when flooding occurs.
We will be carrying out these works as soon as the land is accessible. “