Hereford & Worcester

Worcester flood water 'unsafe' due to contamination

A flooded garden in Diglis Avenue
Image caption Flood water in Worcester's Diglis Avenue is contaminated with raw sewage

Contaminated water in an area of Worcester affected by flooding contains bacteria levels nearly 60 times what is considered safe, an expert says.

Aquatic health and safety consultant Allen Wilson tested water in a garden where raw sewage has been released by a flooded sewer.

He said the levels suggested there was a risk of water-borne diseases like Weil's disease or typhoid fever.

But Public Health England said the levels were not unusual after flooding.

Mr Wilson, from Studies in Work, took readings from a garden in the Diglis area of the city where homes have been under water for more than a week, and found bacteria measurements ranged from 40 to 1,774.

A reading of between one and 32 is considered safe, he said.

'No surprise'

"I've never seen numbers as high as some of the ones we've seen today," he said.

"That is the utopian area for bacteria to thrive and grow and multiply."

Mr Wilson said the risk of diseases "that live and thrive in sewage" would be a lot higher than under normal circumstances.

Weil's disease is an infection contracted through touching water contaminated with animal urine, and can be life-threatening.

But Dr David Kirrage, from Public Health England, said the levels were to be expected.

"The contamination doesn't surprise us at all, it's what we get after every flood," he said.

Image copyright Dave Throup
Image caption Flood water remains high in parts of Worcestershire

"Over time those bacteria will be removed by oxidation, by just the action of the sun, the ultraviolet light as things die out... any pollution will eventually go away after time."

Sewers 'Overwhelmed'

Matt Beesley, who owns the garden where the tests were carried out, said he was "very worried" by the readings.

"We've been wading in and out of it for 10 days now. We have complained and talked to people about it and still nothing has been done."

Severn Trent spokesman Ed O'Brien said the company had sent crews to try to deal with the sewage situation, but water levels remained too high.

The sewer system had been "overwhelmed" by the flooding, he said.

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