Members of Cranleigh Civic Society met with representatives of the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water on Friday 16 December 2016 at Thames Water’s offices in Shalford.  Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and Waverley Borough Council were invited but were unable to attend on the day.  However, Waverley have confirmed that they will be inviting all parties to a meeting in the New Year.

It was a productive meeting, with all parties keen to explore pollution issues in Cranleigh Waters and opportunities to improve the failing status of the river.

All attendees stressed the importance of the next stage of Waverley’s water cycle study and the news that Amec Group Ltd had been appointed to carry this out was welcomed.  This study is required as evidence for housing allocations in the Local Plan.  Although a water cycle scoping report was produced by Capita  (August 2016), it was recognised that the far more detailed stage two of the report  was required to identify constraints regarding  specific water supply and wastewater discharge, together with identifying upgrades required to the network and the accompanying timeline; taking into account costs, funding and available technology.

The EA confirmed that they had found Waverley’s Local Plan “unsound” based on the evidence presented to date.

Thames Water advised us that the trials to reduce phosphate levels in sewage effluent, should be available in Summer 2017.  It is not known yet whether the results of these trials are encouraging, or cost effective.  The situation remains that at present it is “technically infeasible” to reduce phosphate levels in discharged effluent to those required by the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

Cranleigh Civic Society is continuing its work with the EA and SWT on Cranleigh Waters with our Volunteer River Wardens.  We are currently requesting permission from landowners to access a longer stretch of the river so that we can carry out invertebrate studies and identify areas for possible restoration work, as well as the reason for continued low flow rates.

It was generally recognised that recent dredging work had severely impacted on flow rates and the ability of the river to maintain aquatic life.

Thames Water maintain that current expansion work at Elmbridge sewage treatment plant is to improve current resilience and not to accommodate growth.  They advised us that the plant would need to be expanded to deal with sewage from the significant housing estates granted in and around Cranleigh.  This would undoubtedly have a further impact on water quality.  However, it was not clear whether this upgrade work would involve a full planning application and Thames Water would not commit to carrying out an Odour Impact Assessment.

We stressed the need for this impact study in order to make sure that residents’ quality of life was not further impacted by odour nuisance.  Thames Water confirmed that complaints about odour from the sewage treatment works (SWT) had increased but they maintained that it was not clear that this corresponded to an increase in odour from the plant, or was due to the Cranleigh Society highlighting to residents that they could complain.  We would stress to residents that they should continue to report any odours from the STW in order that Thames Water have more accurate records.

Please continue to report odour nuisance to Thames Water email or 24-hour customer service team on 0800 316 9800 and to
Waverley Borough Council Environmental Health on 01483 523393.

Finally we discussed issues surrounding water supply and the recent spate of burst water mains. This will be discussed further at our next meeting.

In addition to the meeting in the New Year with Waverley, Thames Water is also helpfully arranging further meetings with their drainage and water supply departments.