Stinking raw sewage spilled out into a park near a primary school for up to a week after Storm Henk, as Thames Water confirmed its sewer system had overloaded in Wokingham.

Sewage flowed from manholes in fields near Emmbrook Junior School in Wokingham after days of heavy rainfall. Emmbrook ward councillor Imogen Shepherd-DuBey said she thought children and others had been walking through it for days – and the smell was ‘really horrible.’

She told the News: “A series of manhole covers for several days have been belting raw sewage into the fields. Kids have been walking to school through it, people have been walking their dogs through it. And it smelled really horrible.”

The spill occurred in the stretch of three fields along the banks of the Emm Brook which stretch south from Old Forest Road to Emmbrook Road.

READ MORE: Thames Water pumps sewage into The Cut in week of Storm Henk

Councillor Shepherd-DuBey said she reported the spill to Thames Water on Saturday, January 13. But after speaking to a Thames Water worker who came to inspect the spill she suspects it had been ongoing since Friday January 5, when flooding followed Storm Henk.

She said: “This is a consequence of the heavy rainfall. But they should have cleaned it up sooner rather than allowing people to walk through it for days.”

Thames Water did not confirm how long the spill had gone on for – but said that its engineers arrived ‘as quickly as possible.’

Bracknell News: The sewage spill in EmmbrookThe sewage spill in Emmbrook (Image: Imogen Shepherd-DuBey)

A spokesperson told the News: “Our engineers attended as quickly as possible and found the recent heavy rainfall, along with high groundwater levels and river flooding, caused our local sewer system to overload resulting in heavily diluted wastewater to escape from nearby manholes.

“We are sorry to those who have been impacted by this. Our teams have had a tanker at the site to mitigate against any further flooding and have carried out a clean-up of the affected areas.”

Thames Water has already come under fire after sewage treatment works discharged waste into rivers including The Cut and the Loddon repeatedly following Storm Henk.

READ MORE: Thames Water pollution among reasons Bracknell rivers suffer

The water company says river discharges occur when treatment works are unable to cope with the volume of water flowing into them. It says this is to stop sewage backing up out of drains and into people’s homes.

But Thames Water says that its systems were still unable to cope with the rainfall and flooding, leading to the manholes in Emmbrook overflowing. It said it was investing in upgrades to its sewage treatment works in Wokingham.

The spokesperson said: “We recognise how difficult this can be for customers which is why we have published plans to upgrade over 250 of our sewage treatment works and sewers, including Wokingham STW.

“This will improve the site’s ability to treat the high volumes of incoming sewage and reduce the need for overflows during wet weather and is expected to be completed in 2025.”