by Chris Tobin
Wheelchair-using former firefighter Barry Everett (74) was not a happy man on a frosty Wednesday morning last week.
A blocked drain left sewage overflowing into his shower and seeping from external drains at his Wai-iti Road home.
“The house smells . . . It stinks. You can’t breathe,” Mr Everett said when The Courier visited him about 10.45am, just over an hour after the overflow began.
Raw sewage gushed from drains, pooling on his front lawn and into his neighbours Joy and Bob Lee’s property.
Mr Everett blamed the Timaru District Council and suggested the drains in Wai-iti Rd had not been upgraded after a large number of homes were built over the road for a retirement village.
“I’ve been here five years and it’s happened five times,” Mr Everett said.
“It’s an engineering problem.”
Timaru District Council water and drainage manager Grant Hall said the retirement village was not the cause and the council’s records showed it had happened three times.
“The retirement village does not discharge sewage into this part of the reticulation, so is not a contributor to the problem.”
He said a build-up of wet wipes and rags had blocked the public sewer network.
“There have been other blockages in adjacent sections of pipe on other occasions.
“I am uncertain as to the cause of these previous blockages.”
Asked what was being done to rectify the problem, Mr Hall said camera footage would be obtained which would be analysed.
“The remedial works to rectify the issue will then be carried out to minimise the risk of a similar occurrence.”
He said wet wipes, nappies and other ‘cloth-type’ material should not be flushed down the toilet, even if it was suggested they were flushable, since they could block sewers and cause overflow problems.
The council’s contractor Citycare arrived at 10.45am to clear the sewage blockage and clean up. Mr Everett’s home was cleaned and disinfected by another council contractor during the afternoon.
Mr Everett, a firefighter for more than 27 years, said his wife arrived home later in the day and burst into tears over what had happened.
He still believed the council’s drainage system was at fault.
“If it happens once, OK, but it’s happening at least once a year.”