SOUTHERN Water is pumping sewage into a once clean stream which runs through the centre of a village in its long running battle to deal with drainage, flooding and the rising water table in the area.

The company has put up notices at strategic points around St Mary Bourne telling people to keep their pets away from the otherwise pristine Bourne Rivulet and to wash their hands if they come into contact with the water.

A representative of the company has also been stationed at a Southern Water office in the Village Centre to offer advice.

The decision to over-pump the diluted screened sewage was taken to protect villagers from lack of drainage and flooding after the company’s attempts to tanker away sewage was unable to cope.

As well as the problem of drainage and an overwhelmed sewerage system the village faces a threat from the rising water table caused by the wet summer and torrential downpours this year.

Weather recorder Trevor Wheeler, of Hurstbourne Tarrant, whose readings are used by the Met Office, said a 24-hour period last Wednesday to Thursday saw 77.8mm (1.49 ins) of rainfall – the heaviest December deluge since 1979.

Michael Widén, of St Mary Bourne, said: “Southern Water has clearly failed. They have spent millions here and it has not sorted the problem out at all.”

Several homes are still unable to flush lavatories while others experience sewerage effluent randomly flooding bathrooms when the system backs up.

The diluted sewage is entering the river at 33 litres per second and resident Tony Styles says villagers’ fears have increased.

He said: “Villagers are now concerned about the effect of the sewage if the Bourne should flood.

“Many ask about residue on the land after any flooding subsides.

“Although filtered what about micro matter in the sewage, for example medications?”

Southern Water has released a statement. However, at a closed meeting on 20 December it unveiled a confidential long term solution, which will be considered and then put to a parish meeting early in 2013.

The company statement said: “Over-pumping involves sucking the highly dilute wastewater out of the sewers and pumping it into the Bourne Rivulet through a screen to remove any solid waste.

“We are currently tankering and over pumping to ensure our customers can use their waste services.”

It went on to say it proposed to install a ‘safety valve’ to release flows from the main sewer network and channel it away from the village into the Bourne Rivulet when the system threatens to be overwhelmed by groundwater, but that this ‘safety valve’ was not welcomed by the villagers and it did not proceed with that proposal.