HUNDREDS of gallons of sewerage burst out of a drain and flowed across a busy woodland footpath into a river which feeds a nature reserve – for the second time in as many months.
The volunteers who have spent hundreds of hours to make Tregoniggie Woodland in Falmouth a ‘quiet, green oasis’ say they are “heartbroken” and “demoralised” after all their hard work.
The sewerage, which is pumped in pipes under the woodland from Penryn to the treatment works at Falmouth Docks, lifted a manhole cover in the woods on Thursday last week and flowed for several days.
According to Marc Laundon, from the Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland, it is running across a path, which is the main pedestrian route for pupils from Longfield to Falmouth School, and straight into an open stream which flows through Falmouth, down to the nature reserve at Swanpool and into the sea.
“There is toilet paper all over the manhole,” he said. “We have no idea what is it (the sewage). We are demoralised after all our hard work.”
Friends committee member David Evans said it could pose a public health risk.
“I am concerned for the people who use the path and in particular the children who have to walk through it, they are paddling through it,” he said. “They’ve only got to fall over and they will get contaminated, they will get ill.
He added: “It’s heartbreaking, when we are all working so hard to make the woods nicer for everyone to visit, that the first thing you notice is the smell of raw sewage.
“If this was happening in a residential street there would be an uproar.”
Mr Laundon said he had received “conflicting messages” from South West Water as to what caused the problem after it happened on January 20.
“Now the sewage is back again, so if it is a blockage, why haven’t they resolved the problem? Quite simply, we don’t know what to believe.”
Tregoniggie Woodland runs between Conway Road and Venton Road and Tregoniggie Industrial Estate.
According to the Friends, it is a ‘quiet, green oasis’ which is very popular with dog walkers and local residents.
Volunteers have spent helped to clear fallen trees, overgrown bushes and paths, as well as planting hedgerows and thousands of spring bulbs with the help of local school children.
A spokesman for South West Water said it was working with the Environment Agency to investigate and “help minimise problems” with the sewerage network in the woodland.
“Over the weekend our crews jetted the sewer line in this area to ensure there were no blockages but further investigation is needed to assess possible infiltration from groundwater sources into the sewer,” he said.
“We do appreciate how unpleasant sewer flooding is for affected customers and apologise for any distress caused.”