Ignored by ‘Your Waverley’ but Thames Water is forced to recognise there IS a problem with blue asbestos in the East’s water supply!


How does the old adage go:

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After a long DAVID & GOLIATH type fight by Cranleigh Civic Society, Thames Water has agreed to start replacing Cranleigh’s  asbestos cement drinking water pipes starting in 2018.

Recently one of its members/parish councillor was hauled in front of ‘Your Waverley’s monitoring officer accused of  ‘bullying planning officers’, yes ‘bullying’ and there were we thinking that most of the bully-boy tactics come from Chairman Mao and Liz the Biz – the shove and shunt brigade whose mission is to cover the countryside in concrete, because they couldn’t come up with a LOCAL PLAN!

We don’t actually know how the smack and slap brigade led by Little Hitler – Robin  Taylor punished Brian Freestone, but no doubt someone will tell us sooner or later at … contact@waverleyweb.org

According to the CCS –

29.6% of the drinking water pipes are old and made from asbestos cement (compared to an average throughout SE England of just 2%).  The design life of these pipes is 50 to 70 years, and as some of these were installed in the early 1960’s, they are starting to decay and burst.

In fact they’ve been busting with monotonous regularity now new developments have commenced.

For almost a year the Society has been banging on about the problems and meeting with Thames Water, to no avail finally Thames Water  carried out tests on samples of burst pipes to determine the composition of the materials used. 

WHAT DID THEY FIND? Yes – you guessed!

 A mixture of white and blue asbestos  …

and,  now ,Thames Water has announced that it will start a programme of replacement in Spring 2018 (they will need the time between now and then for planning and to seek the licences required.

Cranleigh Civic Society says: ‘it is grateful to Thames Water who have been open and helpful in giving advice, and also to them for carrying out tests on the samples of burst pipe.  On the 9th October, Thames Water told us that they have identified over 3 km of pipes to replace, and we are awaiting confirmation from them as to how much of our old asbestos cement network that accounts for, and over what period of time the replacement programme will take place.

Thames Water has advised that it has secured the funding for this project, which comes out of central pot and will not impact on bills locally.

New housing being built in Cranleigh must comply with current Building Regulations that require a minimum 1 bar drinking water pressure provision.  This is because many new houses nowadays are provided with unvented hot water systems, which work on higher pressure than the old “indirect” systems based on a header tank in the attic space.  Over the past three months the number of burst water pipes has increased considerably with over 20 bursts occurring, some leaving residents without water for days at a time.  This has coincided with the building of new housing estates in the village.

‘It is Cranleigh Civic Society’s opinion  that if more new housing estates are connected onto the existing network before Thames Water has finished replacing the old asbestos cement pipes, the number of bursts will increase exponentially, and could raise the risk of more free asbestos fibres entering the drinking water network’.

We think these old asbestos cement pipes in the Cranleigh area should be replaced BEFORE more new houses are connected to the network.

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Thames Water advised Cranleigh Civic Society on the 20th October that the 3km of asbestos cement pipe that they are replacing in Cranleigh is only one fifth of the total length of the asbestos pipes in the village.

That means that Cranleigh will still have 12km of very old, decaying asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes operational in the drinking water network.

Cranleigh Civic Society has written several times to the Government’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) asking them to confirm that these old pipes will not be a risk to the health of Cranleigh residents, and we have not received reassurance from them.

The position of Cranleigh Civic Society remains unequivocal. 

We think these very old AC pipes in the Cranleigh area should all be replaced BEFORE any new houses are connected to the network.  We think that the infrastructure should be sorted out by Waverley Borough Council first, particularly in this case where, we believe, it cannot be ruled out that there is a clear and present danger to public health.

2 thoughts on “Ignored by ‘Your Waverley’ but Thames Water is forced to recognise there IS a problem with blue asbestos in the East’s water supply!”

  1. You have touched on a subject dear to my heart. The explosion in the use of combi boilers in place of conventional ones with a cylinder and CWS tank in the loft.

    If I asked you if you would like an old fashioned Ascot heater most people would recoil in horror but that is essentially what a combi boiler is. Before we joined the EU you required special permission to install this type of system. When the plumbers, please note that is plumber NOT heating engineer, sells you this type of installation it is because it is quicker and cheaper for him not because it is what is best for you.

    As many Cranleigh residents have discovered to their cost if you have this type of installation when the pipe bursts they are left with no water (hot or cold) and no heating because they no longer have any back up. If there is a problem with the boiler they have no heating or hot water because they have done away with the cylinder that has a standby immersion heater that would have at least provided hot water.

    All these new houses will probably have combi’s, quite unnecessarily installed, and that is why the existing water supply pipes are bursting but the developers are only interested in the bottom line and they are not picking up the cost from damage caused by their poor domestic services design.

    Sorry for the rant but this has been a problem that we have been dealing with for the last 30years and every now and then I have vent.

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