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.
After a long fight by Cranleigh Civic Society, Thames Water have agreed to start replacing Cranleigh’s asbestos cement drinking water pipes starting in 2018.
29.6% of our 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.
During the last nine months, a team from Thames Water has met with Cranleigh Civic Society several times to discuss the problem, and Thames Water has carried out tests on samples of burst pipes to determine the composition of the materials used. They have found a mixture of white and blue asbestos. On the 5th October, the team from Thames Water announced to Cranleigh Civic Society that they 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 that will be needed).
Cranleigh Civic Society 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 us that they have secured the funding for this project, which comes out of central pot and will not impact on our 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.
Cranleigh Civic Society’s opinion is 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.
Last night Waverley Borough Council granted planning permission for 54 houses on the worst site in Cranleigh for new houses on the Elmbridge Road.
The developers Thakeham Homes say they pride themselves on the quality of their homes and yet they are building houses smaller than nationally set space standards between a smelly sewage treatment plant and a river that regularly floods. New residents will need pegs for their noses and water wings.
However, on a serious note the drainage for this site is being put in an area that we know floods regularly so will be completely useless when its needed most, as is the children’s play area, we hope that anyone who lives there keeps a careful eye on their children, as we know how quickly the river can change from a low to high state and how quickly it flows in times of flood.
The Joint Planing Committee accepted (10 to 8) the new “expert” estimated advice that the flood zones on the land had now miraculously moved since the last time it came before committee in JUNE 2017 and they ignored local residents, the Parish Council and expert evidence put forward by our Councillor Liz Townsend that the flooding had been much worse in December 2013 than was being stated and was at the very least 45.194m. They also refused to look at photographic evidence presented by Councillor Jerry Hyman from Farnham, that showed both a water mark on the pumping station on the Elmbridge Road, taken in December 2013, as well as flood detritus, that proved the water had been over a 1 in 1,000 years predicted flood event. We have had at least two floods of this magnitude in 50 years – 1968 and 2013, so more of 1 in 25 years! Far from the flood zones being reduced, they should have been increased and the safety of new residents and people living further downstream should have been paramount.
As a chartered insurance broker I am acutely aware of the fact that these new residents are not guaranteed flood insurance, in fact they could end up with new (and very expensive) homes that are frankly worthless.
Yet another development in Cranleigh bringing our total new houses up to nearly 1,400. In a race for a housing figure corners are most definitely being cut and it is Cranleigh residents that will be left with all the mounting problems.
We hope that the articles on this website will assist any new residents when they need to make an insurance claim in the future.
Despite fears about flooding from Cranleigh Waters and odour from the sewage treatment plant as well as water quality in the river, Waverley Borough Council’s Joint Planning Committee are being recommended to GRANT permission to Thakeham Homes for 54 new dwellings on the Elmbridge Road site. The meeting will take place on Thursday 5th October – public are welcome. Time 7pm at the Burys – Council offices in Godalming.
You may be interested to know that CVHT have invited some groups to attend a presentation this evening at Cranleigh Arts Centre 7:15pm. Details are being displayed at the hospital shop too and a public exhibition is planned for 4 November – let’s find out what they have to say.