WREXHAM councillors have been told the authority is not ‘passing the buck’ when sewage is discharged during heavy rain and flooding.
The council’s homes and environment scrutiny committee met to discuss the flood risk management plan before it goes out to public consultation next month.
Councillors welcomed the updated plan, which will be in place for five years when adopted in March, which has an emphasis on supporting those areas of Wrexham at most risk of flooding.
But some councillors raised concerns about dealing with sewage and excrement ending up flowing out into residential areas as a result of flooding.
Gwersyllt North Cllr Emma Holland (Plaid) brought up examples from her ward and an adjoining ward and said she felt the issue was being batted between the council and water authorities.
She said: “I don’t think it’s acceptable at all to be honest, I feel it’s something the council needs to take on board rather than passing the buck.”
Officers said they do everything possible to help residents in those situations and work with Welsh Water to see if they can assist.
Council flood officer Cathryn Hughes said: “Obviously that is something we have told Welsh Water that is absolutely unacceptable.
“A lot of these systems are combined, a legacy from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s before legislation was changed that surface water was put into a different pipe.”
She added that heavy rain causes hydraulic overloading of these systems which can no longer cope so water comes back out of the easiest avenues – which can often be a highway gulley.
“We are working with Welsh Water particularly their rainscape team about getting surface water out of those drainage systems and keeping it in the landscape where it’s not causing any harm”, she said.
Chairing the meeting, Ponciau Cllr Paul Pemberton (Ind) reminded members that the council is not responsible for all flood prevention measures, and that sewerage and drainage issues come under Natural Resources Wales and Welsh Water.
Llay Cllr Rob Walsh (Ind) asked for more guidance on who to contact when sewerage is seeping out during flooding, as residents often turn to their local councillor as their first port of call in an emergency.
He said: “When you’ve got a major incident, residents turn to you as local member and say ‘please, please do something’.
“We don’t seem to have an obvious contact with Welsh Water. Is there a way of this council giving details to Welsh Water contacts where if there is an emergency, we can say we’ve got sewage water coming up can you help us or advise us urgently?”
Ms Hughes said that is something the department will work towards.
“We have a very good relationship with Welsh Water which I’m very much hoping to improve”, she said.
“In terms of reporting it to them they have their own flood risk data set from flood risk reports that come into them.
“I would strongly encourage the customer to report that directly to Welsh Water themselves but there is also the Welsh Water helpline. I will take away action away to Welsh Water to ask if they can provide a number to elected members.”
Officers asked councillors to keep on top of flood reports from residents so they can bui
ld a clearer picture of areas where there are issues.
The committee will provide feedback ahead of the final draft of the plan being produced in January following the public consultation.