Water, water everywhere (most of he time) – but not a drop to drink in Cranleigh and Ewhurst?

Whilst Thames Water continues to raise ‘No objection” to new housing in Cranleigh and the eastern villages – the taps run dry.. again as pipes burst!

Thames Water has managed to wipe the smile right off the face of Cranleigh Cllr Liz Townsend. 

As tempers rose yesterday a Cranleigh parish, Waverley borough and Surrey County Councillor was on the case. She is now crossing swords…again with Thames Water.

So let the battle begin?

Report your leak here: https://www.thameswater.co.uk/leak/

Cllr Liz Townsend

** UPDATE** Yesterday Thursday.
Due to burst water main on Amlets Lane about 390 properties are being impacted with low or no flow of water. Those residents who have medical needs have been provided with an alternative supply of water. Thames Water thinks the matter will be resolved by the end of the day.
**SECOND UPDATE Have chased for a response about the time for resumption of supply and delivery of bottled water.**
After several reports from residents of no/low water supply this morning and the problems last week as well, in addition to ongoing issues that I am in continuous contact with Thames Water about, I have today sent this email to the Thames Water Local Government Lead (I have removed personal details):
From: Liz Townsend
Sent: 19 August 2021 10:48
Sent to the Local Gov Lead and copied in: CEO of Thames Water, Cllr. Paul Follows – Godalming, Milford and Witley, Waverley Borough Council CEO and MP Angela Richardson
Subject: Further Water Leaks in Cranleigh
Dear xxx,
After last weeks multiple leaks, I regret to inform you that yet again a large number of Cranleigh and Ewhurst residents are without water or have extremely low flow. Areas reported to me as affected are Bookhurst Road, Cranleigh Road, Summerlands Estate, Swallowhurst Estate, Gadbridge Lane, Somersbury Lane, parts of Walliswood, the list just goes on.
I have been reporting leaks to Thames Water since 2016 and over the years I have sent reports, and have taken part in regular residents forums on this subject, which your predecessors attended. I have attended regular Thames Water meetings together with the Cranleigh Civic Society at your offices in Shalford and I have emailed you and other Thames Water staff umpteen times.
I have highlighted to you again and again that almost 30% of Cranleigh’s drinking water pipes are asbestos cement and are between 50 and 70 years old. Evidence shows that these old pipes begin to degrade internally over time through water friction, and due to low pH and low soil alkalinity, there is also a risk of the release of free asbestos fibres into the drinking water, which I am aware you don’t routinely check for. Our pipes have been tested by you and were confirmed in 2017 to contain the most dangerous blue (crocidolite) form of asbestos as well as white (chrysotile). Furthermore, our clay soil places compressive and tensile stresses on the pipes as it is subject to ground heave and shrinkage during prolonged dry periods.
We have also seen unprecedented development in this area with an additional 1,700 new dwellings in Cranleigh alone needing to be connected to your network, placing further stress on the pipes. This may not sound like a lot of new homes to you but in a village of approximately 4,500 houses, it is an increase of 38%. As the houses have been built we have witnessed an increase in bursts across the network.
The fact is that our ageing network, made of materials that would no longer be used for the conveyance of drinking water in the UK, needs replacing. At one stage you confirmed that several kms would be replaced, then you clarified that this was actually across the entire Guildford network, then we were advised that pipes would only be replaced when they burst. This is simply not a good enough service for your customers and could actually be placing them at increased risk.
You only have to take a look at your own issues map today to see that in these villages there are about 20 issues recorded and that doesn’t appear to include the ongoing issues that I keep reporting to you on Barhatch Lane and Amlets Lane, or the ongoing and frequent issue of water rushing down the road from Lambs Wood reservoir.
As well as providing me with details and a timeline for the repairs being carried out today, I am requesting an online meeting without delay to discuss the issues affecting this area, why some issues never seem to get addressed and your plans to improve the water supply to your customers in Cranleigh and Ewhurst.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Liz Townsend
Surrey County Councillor for Cranleigh & Ewhurst

Jonathan Lucas

Needed saying – but surely Thames Water whilst directly responsible for the mains and drainage etc aren’t accountable for the idiocy of building so many additional houses without upgrading the infrastructure? I actually feel sorry for TW having to tackle the repercussions……they likely blame planning policy and councillors approving these housing schemes.
Note: Thames Water has not formally objected to the new housing although it has raised issues on occasion about the inadequacy of the water supply in this area, however, it has always maintained it is able to meet any demand.

Cllr Townsend responded to hundreds of reports of further leaks and messages of congratulations and updates throughout another quiet day in the life of a local councillor who was as good as the promise she made on the tin! You can read just a handful here…

  • Cllr Liz Townsend

    Mandy I have been informed that your supply has now been reinstated. The latest conclusion (at the end of this report) by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality was published in Dec 2020 https://www.who.int/docs/default-so

    Jonathan Lucas

    Needed saying – but surely Thames Water whilst directly responsible for the mains and drainage etc aren’t accountable for the idiocy of building so many additional houses without upgrading the infrastructure? I actually feel sorry for TW having to tackle…

    Cllr Liz Townsend

    Jonathan Lucas they have not formally objected to the new housing although they have raised issues on occasion about the inadequacy of the water supply in this area, however, they have always maintained that they are able to meet any demand.

    Lorraine Branch

    The Ockley Road from Ewburst is a joke with yet more leaks. Seems to have been years since there wasn’t at least one between Ewhurst and Forest Green

    Cllr Liz Townsend

    Lorraine Branch please do report any leaks that you see, many go unreported and this can skew Thames Water’s official number of leaks https://www.thameswater.co.uk/leak/
    Well said Liz, why should we pay the high fees they charge when our water is possibly dangerous and then we don’t have any for prolonged periods.

    Isabelle Cooper Graves

    Thank you for your continual campaigning on this issue

    Jill Saunders

    Thank you, Liz! I am fed up with large organisations not caring these days!

    Holly Cooper

    Thank you, I see that the leak at the roundabout at Gaston Gate is still not fixed and there is another leak just on the road heading out to Shamley Green! What a nightmare.

    · 2h

  • Great email Liz, as much as it needed to be sent I seriously doubt Thames water will rise to the challenge, they have to be the slowest of all the utility companies where work is concerned, the debacle east of Ewhurst a few years back went on and on fo…

    Thames Water agrees £11m compensation after customers overcharged
    Thames Water agrees £11m compensation after customers overcharged

    Thames Water agrees £11m compensation after customers overcharged

    Graham Ball

    Low water pressure in Nuttall Gardens, as of approximately 11 am this morning
  • Lisa Clouting

    No water down Knowle Lane either Liz, either at farm or cottage! Off since about 9.00 am this morning
    Cllr Liz Townsend Came back on at about 5 pm.

6 thoughts on “Water, water everywhere (most of he time) – but not a drop to drink in Cranleigh and Ewhurst?”

  1. There’s a finite amount of water available within the Cranleigh ageing infrastructure, with ever more pressure put on that system by new developments and increased usage.

    Where does this extra water come from?

    1. Yes, where will this extra water come from if all the planning consents now granted actually come to fruition? There should be a complete halt to any further development taking place in the eastern villages until the ageing infrastructure is made fit for purpose. In Alfold, tankers are now an everyday part of village life as they rock up to remove foul water and toilets overflow and sewage effluent cover gardens. One-way bridges or bridges that have been closed for years, which highways claim is due to badgers, great crested newts, but is much more to do with NFMoney!

  2. I don’t think that anyone should be very surprised by the spate of burst pipes recently. As Councillor Townsend pointed out, some of our drinking water supply mains are made from asbestos cement pipes, and they were laid in the 1950s when Cranleigh was rapidly expanding at that time. Asbestos cement pipes had a design life of 50 years. The reason for the 50 years timespan was because tests back in the 50s showed that in many areas of the UK with aggressive pH (such as in this area of Surrey), the pipes “corrode” (not in the steel rusting sense of course) and fail over a 50 year period.

    Regarding health risk, the latest “WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality” published in December 2020 states “It should be noted that the ability of asbestos fibres ingested in drinking-water to migrate through the walls of the gastrointestinal tract in sufficient numbers to cause adverse or systemic effects remains largely unknown and is the subject of debate.” Personally I think that Thames Water should have made it a priority to replace these old asbestos cement pipes when the risk was pointed out to them by Cranleigh Civic Society in 2016, particularly because their records don’t show which are lower risk white asbestos pipes and which are the more dangerous blue asbestos pipes. But Thames Water ignored it.

    1. When is Thames Water going to stand in front of the public and answer for its consistent failures? Call a public meeting Cllr Townsend before the next spate of bursts?

      1. Thames Water is owned by a series of investment companies, many of them sovereign wealth funds or pension funds owned and run by foreign governments. Thames Water’s 2017 annual report in fact shows that the company is over 50% owned by foreign states through pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.

      2. Thank you for your comments. When will sovereign wealth funds own everything we once owned in this country? Also, when will someone will be made accountable for their failures. we mean really accountable. Until they are severely fined, they will continue to laugh in our faces won’t they?

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