“They have forgotten us”: more than a year and a half after floods, Verviers is still struggling with broken sewers | Interior

On 14 and 15 July 2021, extremely heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding left a trail of destruction in large parts of Wallonia. Now, more than a year and a half later, the sewers in the Liège city of Verviers have still not been repaired. Due to a dispute between the city council and the public water company, the road works in the city have been halted, much to the dismay of the inhabitants.

Most of the streets in Verviers still look battered a year and eight months after the heavy floods. “There are huge wells and as soon as it rains, they fill with water and large puddles are created. It is unbelievable,” a resident tells RTL Info. “My wife fell on the street and broke her ankle,” added another.

LOOK. On 14 and 15 July 2021, large parts of Wallonia were hit by heavy floods, which left a trail of destruction

Who will pay for repairs?

The road works in the Liège city have been put on hold because the city and the public water company SPGE cannot agree on who should pay for the repair of the sewers. The project has a price tag of 7 million euros.

According to Alexandre Loffet, acting mayor of Verviers, the sewage system has been damaged by the floods. “Just after the storm, we received an email stating that the recovery and reconstruction were guaranteed,” he says.

The streets in Verviers are still in a bad state to this day. © Jules Emile

Maintenance of the sewers is normally the responsibility of the water company, but they judge the sewers to be damaged by age and want to replace them in only eight of the fifty streets affected. The sewer network has been examined with special cameras on the banks of the Vesdre, reports François Gabriel of SPGE. “A report is now being prepared. The photos show the most important elements: these are sewers with structural problems due to aging,” he says.

The inhabitants of Verviers are the victims of the ongoing discussion. “They have forgotten us and neglected us. We don’t know what to do,” he said. The city will now appeal to Environment Minister Zakia Khattabi (Ecolo), who must act as a neutral party in the conflict.

Verviers after the floods, on July 15, 2021.

Verviers after the floods, on July 15, 2021. © Photo News

Verviers after the floods, on July 15, 2021.

Verviers after the floods, on July 15, 2021. © Photo News

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