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The stench and the suffering goes on

A Masterton woman with terminal cancer is struggling to cope with regular flooding from contaminated water – including sewerage – from nearby council wastewater pipes.

Susan Bailey has stage four cancer and is immunocompromised. She described how she and her elderly father, who has dementia, suffered from the human waste flooding their yard and blocking their drains.

She even suspects the waste might have come up the drain into the kitchen sink during flooding episodes.

The Baileys live in Cockburn St, which regularly floods as wastewater from nearby Taranaki St discharges up the road from their house.

“It’s usually the toilet first.

“You flush the toilet, and it doesn’t empty. We now know, because we’re experienced, that it’s blocked. We put a ‘do not use’ sign on the door for Dad, “ Bailey said.

“The whole back lawn floods.”

During flooding incidents, the Baileys have to use outside portaloos provided by Masterton District Council [MDC].

The flooding has been going on for about five years, with human waste flowing into their yard intermittently since February 2022.

“I’m stressed. When it floods, the driveway is underwater, the back lawn and the whole yard,” she said.

“We have to wear gumboots.

“It’s all wastewater, which is sinks, bathrooms, laundry, and sewerage. We can’t do anything when it happens. We can’t shower, launder, do dishes, or go to the toilet. All the drains are blocked, they are full up to the brim. If you turn a tap on, the sink will overflow,” she said.

“I think there must be poo in all the drains, so now I bleach all the sinks. I’m just so paranoid.

“Some toilets in the street have overflowed inside the houses when it first started because you don’t really understand what’s happening. We have other people’s faeces floating in the garden.”

Although residents are provided with portaloos by the council when necessary, “Where do we shower, where do we wash our dishes, where do we brush our teeth, where do we keep clean?” Bailey asked.

She said a neighbour’s dog had died after one flooding incident, with the cause of death attributed to the contaminated water.

“I heard the vet said the dog had died after licking the septic floodwater off its body.”

Neighbour Penelope Sullivan said the problem impacts the whole neighbourhood, but MDC recently gave consent for a substantial new subdivision to be developed just across the road from the affected area.

“Heavy manholes are bubbling out of the ground, with wastewater,” she said.

“Why is the council still taking money from developers when there is such a major health and safety issue in this area?

“All building and consents need to stop immediately.”

MDC mayor Gary Caffell said he is aware of the situation and the council is working hard to find a way forward.

“I understand officers are planning to meet with some of the affected residents very soon, possibly as soon as Friday.

“We are really moving on it. We understand the size of the problem and the way it’s affecting people,” Caffell said.

“We are not sitting on our hands. We really do understand how people are feeling. It’s taking a huge emotional toll on the affected residents. There’s a real sadness around the council table, and an absolute desire to fix the problem.”

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