Homes on Oxford’s Botley Road are being flooded with sewage as Thames Water’s ageing system struggles to cope with heavy rainfall.

The utility company confirmed today that rainfall in the past week has caused the sewer system to overload.

Engineers have been on site with a tanker to try to pump away the sewer water which has been escaping from manhole covers and drain covers.

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Annie Blows, who lives in Botley Road, said sewage was pumping out of the drains in her laundry room and out across her garden.

She added: "You can see it’s full of loo roll and all sorts. It's terrifying to think about the health risk."

Oxford Mail: Homes and businesses close to the sewer leakOutside in the street, sewage water is leaking from drain covers and forming large puddles.

It has been fountaining out of a manhole cover in the middle of the Botley Road.

Sewage water is also pooling in the Waitrose service area.

When Ms Blows contacted Thames Water about the problem, the company sent an engineer to take a look.

She added: "He explained they had to make a decision about whether to flood us, the vets, and the other few houses in our row, or risk 300 other houses.

"It makes sense but doesn’t help when you’re the sacrifice."

Ms Blows added: "Some notice would have been good.

"We could have moved our appliances and furniture – but as it is everything’s damaged."

Oxford Mail: Sewage in a laundry roomLiz Sawyer, also living in Botley Road, said her family has had to stop using their downstairs toilet because it flushes away so slowly.

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Ms Sawyer, who is a member of the flood action group Oxford Flood Alliance, said: "There have been bubbling drains and inspection chambers in the area for weeks – even when the water was lower than it is now.

"There are several in North Hinksey village."

Ms Sawyer added: "Although river levels are high, we have seen them much higher in recent years without this problem.

"The system seems to be under pressure in a way that hasn’t happened before. This is deeply worrying.

‘Thames Water is contributing to the budget for the planned Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme (OFAS), because the company believes it will help reduce these sewage leaks, caused by ageing infrastructure.

Oxford Mail: Sewer water in Botley Road"But there are clearly major issues ahead for Thames Water, as climate change worsens."

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OFAS is awaiting planning approval, and Ms Blows is one of many residents who have written to the county council asking for a speedy approval of the scheme.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: "We have responded to reports of both internal and external sewer flooding on Botley Road in Oxford over the past week.

"Our engineers have found in this instance the heavy rainfall caused our local sewer system to overload, resulting in diluted wastewater to escape from nearby manholes.  

Oxford Mail: Sewage water outside Waitrose"We have had a tanker at the site to pump away excess flows from the manholes to prevent them from overflowing and have also arranged for an extensive clean and investigation of our sewers to identify any obstructions which may be disrupting the flow in the area. 

"We are sorry to residents for any distress the flooding may have caused and would like to assure them, clean ups of the affected areas are being arranged over the coming days.” 

Although some sewer water appears to have overflowed onto the Waitrose site it is understood the store itself has not been affected.