Sewerage litter causes flooding in Jurong, AMK flats

Sewerage litter causes flooding in Jurong, AMK flats
The kitchen in Mr Tony Soh’s Ang Mo Kio flat (above) flooded with sewage water. A worker (right) repairing the pipes in the void deck of the block.

First, there was killer litter - rubbish thrown from the top of buildings that can endanger passers-by. Now, sewerage litter is causing a problem to residents and town councils.

At least 12 cases of sewage water flooding in low-floor units in Jurong have been reported to Jurong Town Council since the start of the year. A town council spokesman said clothing, toys and renovation debris have been found choking the main waste pipes of these blocks.

The blockages are mostly caused by home owners or renovation contractors chucking things down the toilet or sink.

These can block sewage pipes and cause contaminated water to flow back into low-floor units.

Three units on the second floor of Block 213 in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 have also experienced blockages in the past two months.

One of the block's residents, retiree Tony Soh, 60, said the toilets, kitchen and living room of his four-room flat were flooded on Aug 20.

The water damaged household appliances such as his refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and washing machine. His timber-laminate flooring also "popped" at three different spots.

Mr Soh said, "The smell of sewage was unbearable. Black particles were also floating about in my home. The place was contaminated and uninhabitable."

He said he bought cleaning chemicals to clean the floor after the water was drained by the contractor carrying out Home Improvement Programme (HIP) works in the estate.

A Housing Board spokesman said the contractor found that the flooding was likely to have been caused by a piece of cloth and other debris that had accumulated over time in the bend of the block's main pipe.

She said, "This accumulation of debris caused the water to flow upwards to the kitchen and toilet floor traps of the unit, and eventually flow out into the kitchen and toilets."

She added that the HIP contractor cleared the blockage and replaced the block's pipes, located in the void deck just below the affected unit. However, she said that the blockage was unlikely to have been caused by HIP works, which had started just the day before.

The spokesman added that the contractor had offered, on a goodwill basis, to replace the affected laminate flooring. The contractor's company will be arranging with its insurers to further assess the validity of claims made by the home owners to replace damaged appliances as well, she added.

Mr Milton Ng, the president of the Environmental Management Association of Singapore, which represents cleaning firms in the country, said residents often take environmental hygiene for granted. This results in bad habits such as littering.

Said Mr Ng, "They think it is the Government's job to keep Singapore clean." He added: "The Government is not taking enough action to punish offenders."

This article was first published on October 8, 2014.
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