An Independent representative on Derry City and Strabane District Council has warned that a blocked drain in Creggan that is spewing out raw sewage has the potential to cause a major health problem.
Gary Donnelly told the ‘Journal’ that the issue at a block of flats in Blighs Gardens has been ongoing for several days and has called on NI Water to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
The councillor said the issue began around December 29 and whilst the initial situation caused a build up of water under a stairwell at the block of flats a failure to properly clear the problem has now resulted in raw sewage lying on the ground where the homes are accessed.
Mr Donnelly said: “There are three schools in the immediate area, St John’s, St Cecilia’s and Blighs Lane Nursery School and if this is not cleared up at once it has the potential to be a major health hazard for children and all the residents of the area.
“The sewage has deposited itself as a thick sludge so to me it’s not just a matter of unblocking the drain but disinfecting the whole area as well. The powers that be need to take this seriously.
Councillor Donnelly also said that when the drain cover was removed it became clear that it had been blocked by amongst other things a child’s bicycle. He called on young people in the area to “stop that type of behaviour and realise that there are consequences to your actions.”
Meanwhile Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Kevin Campbell hit out at NI Water.
He said: “Over a week ago there was a sewage leak in the area and it was reported to NI Water.
“They have been out on a number of occasions but have not got the source of the problem.
“Since the sewer overflowed raw sewage has been lying in and around the side and back of the houses.
“Residents have complained to me that they believe there has been no serious attempt to effectively deal with the issue and as a result there is a large pool of raw sewage lying and this is causing a major health issue for the residents in the area.
“I am calling on NI Water to resolve this problem immediately and have the area in and around the source of the problem decontaminated as it is a serious health issue.”
When asked how they proposed to resolve the issue a spokesperson for NI Water told the ‘Journal’:
“NI Water can confirm that it received reports of a blocked sewer affecting the Bligh’s Gardens area in Creggan. NI Water attended the site and attempted to clear the blockage, however, further specialist equipment was required to complete the job.
“The team attended the site today (Wednesday 6 January) and have discovered what looks like a bicycle and some iron bars lodged in a deep manhole. Efforts today have enabled the sewer to begin to flow again and a clean-up has been carried out, however, the bicycle is still lodged and a further attempt to remove it will have to be made over the coming days.
“NI Water would take this opportunity to remind customers to dispose of inappropriate items in the bin, rather than in the sewers. Flushing of items like household wipes, baby wipes, sanitary towels etc. are a very common cause of sewer blockages across Northern Ireland, and NI Water is literally fighting a daily battle to keep the sewers clear, at a cost of £2.5 million per year.”