Does Cranleigh have rivers?  yes!

Are Cranleigh’s rivers and streams polluted? 

Many springs arise in and around Cranleigh and venture towards the main rivers. Many are piped underground, under housing and roads and pop up all around you.

You may have spotted people poking around in local waterways with nets, buckets, and jars? A task force team of local volunteers, some from the Civic Society, have for some time been testing the local streams and brooks for pollution. We are performing this task under the guidance of Glen Skelton from Surrey Wildlife Trust. Through them we are in contact with the local council representatives and the Environment Agency. Angela Richardson, our local MP, has also been involved along with Liz Townsend BEM (Parish, Borough and County Councillor) and Marc Scully, Chair of Cranleigh Parish Council.

It all came from the Flood Forum back in May and the numerous complaints made to Thames Water about the seemingly incessant burst pipes and leaks.

The testing takes two forms. One looks for pollution and is quite simple. We have been supplied with testing kits to check the phosphate levels in local streams.

Phosphates are chemical compounds that contain phosphorous. Phosphorous is a key nutrient that both plants and animals use for growth and development. Whilst phosphate is essential for plant and animal life, too much of it can cause a form of water pollution known as eutrophication

Government guidance recommends that rivers should not exceed annual mean phosphate concentrations of 0.1mg per litre. If too much phosphate is present in the water, the algae and weeds will grow rapidly, may choke the waterway, and will use up large amounts of precious dissolved oxygen which happens when, in the absence of photosynthesis, the algae and plants die and are consumed by aerobic bacteria.

Unfortunately, we are finding huge level s of phosphate in the waters in and around Cranleigh. We hope to narrow down the sources, but we have been advised that many could be from ‘missconnections’ in residential wastewater. In other words, outflow from washing machines and dishwashers which have been plumbed into the surface water network by mistake and so end up in the river.. It does not appear to be sewage-related, as some people fear.

The nets, on the other hand, are part of the kit to check the presence of healthy river fly larvae and other minute aquatic inhabitants. The good news is these appear to be fairly plentiful. As a team we are checking many parts of the various waters before, in the middle and after they flow through Cranleigh.

We are finding cased caddis larvae, freshwater shrimp, brown olive, (no not the edible snack) and the invasive American signal crayfish (we don’t have any native crayfish left in Cranleigh). Incidentally, once caught it is illegal to return signal crayfish to the river and they have to be humanely dispatched. – see link:

In summary there are people around trying their best to keep Cranleigh in the manner in which we would like it. Volunteers welcome.

Trevor Dale

Chair, Cranleigh Civic Society

The River Wey is a tributary of the River Thames in south east England. The Cranleigh Waters or Bramley Wey rises at a source close to the sources of two tributaries, the Thornhurst Brook and Coneyhurst Gill in the rural north of Cranleigh, each flowing initially southwestwards to Vachery Pond, before turning to run northwards as the border of Wonersh and Bramley to meet the Wey at Shalford.[1][2] From the Vachery Pond to the Wey, Cranleigh Waters is closely paralleled by the disused Wey and Arun Canal, which crosses the river at Gosden Aqueduct.[2]