Septic tank bill causes a stink

Facing �20k bill: Joanne Campbell and her children, Daisy, 10 and Oliver, five
Facing �20k bill: Joanne Campbell and her children, Daisy, 10 and Oliver, five

A South Ribble family’s happy home turned into a nightmare after investigations found it was connected to a septic tank which is polluting a nearby brook.

And the couple are now facing a bill of up to £20,000 to fix the problem.

Joanne and Andy Campbell said they bought the bungalow on Cop Lane, Penwortham, in June 2009, after being told by the previous owners and United Utilities it was connected to the area’s main sewer pipes.

Mum-of-two Joanne said the tank is not working properly and toilet waste, which should sink to the bottom to decompose, floats to the top.

This waste, along with surface water, is then pumped into the rainwater sewer rather than the foul sewer.

Joanne, a teaching assistant, said: “The tank is broken and so our toilet waste is going into the rainwater sewer and then into a nearby brook, polluting the local wildlife and environment.

“I’ve contacted United Utilities, our local councillor, two separate solicitors, the environment department at South Ribble Borough Council and the Environment Agency and no one can help us.

“We are constantly coming up at a brick wall at every point.”

When the Campbells bought the property, they say the previous owners told them they were not aware of any drainage defects and that the property is connected to a mains surface water drain and not a septic tank.

A United Utilities survey carried out in April 2009 said: “Records indicate that foul water from the property drains to a public sewer.”

Septic tanks are small scale sewage treatment systems and they are common in areas with no connection to main sewage pipes.

It would cost the Campbells £6,000 to have a new septic tank fitted or £20,000 to be connected to the main sewer pipes.

Joanne added: “We’ve not even got £2,000 left because of all the different problems.

“But I’m begrudged to pay 20p.

“The stress is just ridiculous because I like things to be right.

“We live on a main road, you expect to be on the main drains.”

A spokesman for United Utilities said: “We can sympathise with the situation Mrs Campbell is in and we’re investigating this issue further.”