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87-year-old woman resorts to using cat litter because Grimston sewage issues mean her toilet won’t flush, public meeting hears





Ongoing sewage problems in a village have resulted in an 87-year-old woman resorting to cat litter to use the toilet.

The “heart-wrenching” story was heard at a public meeting at Grimston Village Hall on Monday evening, with frustrated residents gathering to discuss sewage from the Anglian Water treatment works in the village spilling into the Gaywood River.

Issues in nearby Roydon and Pott Row were also discussed, with Grimston Parish Council hosting the event and Anglian Water figures attending.

Mark Dye address the public meeting at Grimston Village Hall. Picture: Gaywood River Revival
Mark Dye address the public meeting at Grimston Village Hall. Picture: Gaywood River Revival

Borough and county councillor Rob Colwell, who has been vocal with his concerns for pollution in the rare chalk stream, said the meeting was “incredibly well attended”.

He told the Lynn News: “There was a lot of anger in the room from local residents.

“We had stories of sewage flooding homes, geezers of water coming from street manhole covers that tested positive for E. coli, people contracting E.coli - and the most heart-wrenching story of the night was from an 87-year-old disabled lady who had no option but to purchase a commode and go to the toilet on cat litter because she couldn’t flush her toilet.

More than 100 people attended the meeting. Picture: Gaywood River Revival
More than 100 people attended the meeting. Picture: Gaywood River Revival

“I had to go and speak to her afterwards as it upset me.

“I was pleased to ask the opening question about what plan Anglian Water have for the villages and a timescale for implementation.

“Sadly they couldn’t give the information yet but told residents they were committed to finding a solution as part of their 2035 strategy.”

Data from the Environment Agency recently revealed that wastewater from the Anglian Water sewage treatment works in Grimston spilled into the Gaywood River for more than 1,600 hours in 2023.

Sewage flowing into rivers at Grimston has been a problem for a number of years. Picture: Gaywood River Revival
Sewage flowing into rivers at Grimston has been a problem for a number of years. Picture: Gaywood River Revival

The river, which rises near Derby Fen in West Norfolk before flowing into Lynn, has been the subject of calls from campaigners, MPs and councillors for it to be protected.

The ‘spills’ from the Grimston works have been coming from storm overflows, which dump untreated sewage into rivers and the sea, usually during periods of heavy rainfall to stop sewers from backing up and flooding.

Water companies are allowed to release sewage through storm overflows when the system is overwhelmed during heavy rain in order to help prevent flooding.

Anglian Water previously said it is “working hard” to drive down the number of spills and is investing £50million into a ‘spills taskforce’ to tackle the problem.

Mark Dye, a spokesman for the Gaywood River Revival group who also sits on Grimston Parish Council, said: “Whilst it was good to see Anglian Water come to the table with the other agencies invited along, I’m afraid that once again parishioners didn’t get any straight answers to the annual problems Grimston, Pott Row and Roydon have faced during medium to heavy rainfall for well over a decade.

“We heard about a new multi-agency task force that has now met twice to discuss these issues and how Anglian Water’s business plans work in five-year cycles.

“We also heard that £100,000 was to be spent on lining 198 metres of pipes in Grimston, but the question on everyone’s lips was: ‘Why has this only just happened and what could Anglian Water tell us on its commitment in the short- and long-term to prevent further sewage spills in the villages?’

“The answer was very little.”

Mr Dye added: “I think we all appreciate that 2024 has been difficult with its record levels of rainfall, but the problems in the villages and wider afield have been getting worse for years.

“I’m afraid the root cause is a failure in proper long-term investment to keep up with local development and upgrade infrastructure during the past 30 years.

“At the same time, Anglian Water has continued to pay huge annual dividends to its shareholders, whilst failing to meet regulator targets and dumping record levels of sewage into Norfolk’s chalk streams and rivers.

"With tales of non-return values, (portable toilets), commodes and several incidents of people unable to flush toilets, villagers have been left questioning, if Anglian Water can’t do its job properly what are we paying them for?”



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