Can you help with local rivers and streams?

Can you help with local rivers and streams?

Can you help with Cranleigh’s local rivers and streams?  

The next training meeting is at Snoxhall, 10am Monday 20 November.  Please join in and find out how you can get involved.  Best to take wellies and be prepared to get into the water.  Also make sure you can see small creatures.


Surrey Wildlife Trust staff member Joshua Bowes and colleagues have been working for some years to have the time and money to re-wild a section of waterway in Cranleigh.  It is near the canal off the Elmbridge Road.  In Cranleigh recently they have completed this river restoration project located here

They have reprofiled some of the bank, allowed more light in, introduced over 30 tonnes of gravel, narrowed the channel and re-wiggled.  These actions will enable many beneficial things to happen, such as slowing the water when it is deep and creating habitats for creatures that have been lost.

There will be some balsam removal sessions there next year for which help will be needed.

There has been some interest from local land owners too so watch this space for further restorations! Hopefully we can get volunteers involved too.

We have received a grant from local councillor to buy some new water test equipment for everyone.   You can view the kit here.

As well as some refill packs. These kits will allow you to test a wider ranger of parameters and feed into a wider group.

Our local Surrey Wildlife Trust Wetland Officer Joshua Bowes will be organising training day as well to test out these kits. The next date is 10 am Monday 20th November at Snoxhall fields.  please reply if you hope to join in – it will great to see you.


Can you help with local rivers and streams?

Are Cranleigh’s rivers and streams polluted?

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]

Cranleigh’s Waters Matters

Cranleigh’s Waters Matters

Cranleigh Water Matters

Healthy rivers and streams?

Members of Cranleigh Civic Society have been actively keeping an eye on the state of Cranleigh’s local water pollution levels. Along with other volunteers for Surrey Wildlife Trust, we have been testing the local streams and brooks for phosphate pollution and river-fly larvae numbers – the higher the better the water quality. for a snapshot of measurements taken have a look at the Environment Agency website here

Flood Forum Follow up?

On 6th May we were joined by our MP Angela Richardson, Liz Townsend – our Surrey CC and Waverley Borough Council elected member  – along with a representative of the Environment Agency, and one from Surrey County Council flood team for a walk and casual survey of the brook running from Cranleigh Showground to the grill at the junction of Ewhurst Road and New Park Road.  Known as Cranleigh Waters and going to the River Wey it is under the watchful eye of the Environment Agency as well as Surrey County Council.

Whose responsibility is it to keep the waterways unblocked?

A watercourse is any natural or artificial channel which water flows through- river, stream, ditch, cut, culvert, dike or sluice.  Landowners who own land situated adjacent to any watercourse are termed riparian owners. If your land boundary is along a watercourse it is assumed that you are responsible for maintenance up to the centre of the channel, while the landowner on the other side of the watercouse is responsible for the other half.  If a watercourse flows through your land you are responsible for all maintenance. They must be kept free of obstructions and free of debris and the flow must be maintained enough for fish and creatures to pass along. They must not be added to or polluted in any way, including garden waste disposal. If invasive specials of plants or creatures are found authorities should be asked for help to remove. Any land work must not damage the delicate wildlife habitats that take years to naturally develop. for more information go to or click here

Much discussion centred on the ‘riparian responsibilities’ for the banks and the maintenance of the grill at the road junction. We subsequently discovered that much of the stretch between park Drive and New Park Road is down to Waverley Borough Council!  This happens where roads are provided by Surrey County Council but they in turn contract out to Boroughs for verge etc. management.

Riverfly lavae health and numbers? 

The river-fly situation, where we count the larvae of various waterborne insects and fish fry, appears generally positive, particularly above Cranleigh Showground. Some of the waters around the Downs Link further to the South East are less happy situations. There is a suggestion that it is run-off from the old contaminated ex-brickworks which is apparently currently (pun!) being dealt with.

Phosphate levels in our waters?

The phosphate levels to the North of the village too, despite being above the desirable level are clearly not too bad because the waters are relatively teeming with fish, shrimp and larvae. Don’t get too excited about the shrimp, these are way too small to warrant firing up the barbecue.

The phosphate levels, though, in some streams, are quite worrying. Likely sources of the pollution could be run-off from septic tanks or missed connections in the grey water system. e.g. for a washing machine or dishwasher. Ultimate responsibility for grey water issues which also include sewerage rest with Thames Water.  What we are doing is finding the evidence with which to pressure Thames Water.  Surrey Wildlife Trust will follow up with Surrey County Council and the Environment Agency, to ensure the right actions are taken with Thames Water.

Replacement of Mains water pipes, including those made of asbestos cement?

Mains water pipes are also the main (pun intended) focus of our other complaints on everyone’s behalf – leakages and bursts – which we and others report as soon as seen. Thames Water are replacing lengths of mains pipes all over the village where they are fed up with repairing them. There are many road closures which is so frustrating but, well, (another awful pun) we do need the work done!

If you have concerns about a water course locally please email Surrey County Council at

This will provide helpful information:

For more information on phosphate levels. This will provide more information


Cranleigh’s rivers and waterways news

Cranleigh’s rivers and waterways news

Cranleigh’s rivers and waterways news

Riverfly populations respond to pollution which is why they need constant monitoring. Having good Riverfly levels back in 2017 only tells us that things were ok back then however the situation can change in an instant, which is why we do it. It is also a very useful tool to get people engaged with their local river and encourage them to get involved in other River activities.

Riverfly Training

As part of the Cranleigh Community Rivers Project, we are looking to train a group of citizen scientists to monitor the Riverfly life of Cranleigh’s waterways. The presence or absence of RiverFly nymphs, such as mayfly, can tell us how clean the water is and act as an early warning system to pollution incidents, of which Cranleigh suffers intermittently. The training starts with an introductory classroom session before heading out to the river to collect a sample which will be brought back to the classroom and the target species identified. Following the session volunteers will be equipped with a monitoring kit which they can use to take samples and improve their identification skills. Eventually, when volunteers are confident, we will focus on a handful of monitoring locations in Cranleigh to carry out regular monitoring. Please click the following link to fill out your availability to attend the training session.

Mass Water Sample

We are looking for volunteers to help us gather water samples over a single day from 20 set locations across Cranleigh’s waterways. The samples will then be sent off for laboratory testing to provide us with a snap shot of the current state of Cranleigh’s water quality and where issues are likely to be located. As well as collecting water samples we will also be taking Riverfly samples (where possible) at the sites so we can compare the instream biodiversity with the water quality results. Trained Riverfly volunteers will be brought in and teamed up with less experienced volunteers to help identify the river flies. If you would like to take part, please click the link below and fill out your availability.

We welcome more people to this outdoor rivers task group 

Next meetings in the next 3 weeks.

Cranleigh Society is working with Surrey Wildlife Trust to create friendship task groups to help take care of our rivers and waterways.  A small group of us have enjoyed 2 sessions in the evenings so far.

We discovered that there is a very natural and vibrant bluebell wood – Ashen Copse – with plenty of streams meandering through it, between the show ground and Cranleigh Golf club.  Glen from Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) demonstrated how to examine samples of the water for tiny riverfly nymphs which was great fun.  He also showed us how to identify the Himalayan Balsam – an annual, very tall and pretty, invasive species. This can be pulled out by the roots and left on the bank to rot, without flowering and then seeding.  If the plants are very successful they stop perennial plants thriving which in turn leads to bank erosion.  So whilst they are pretty they are a nuisance.

Our second trip was to Knowle Park where a group learned more about how to carry out the riverfly sampling.  They got pretty wet but had fun too.  In both cases the rivers seem to be pretty healthy at the moment which is great news.

Sorting out Polluters

The information is logged onto a database for SWT to examine.  If they see falling numbers they will visit, carry out further sampling then find out why there is a dip, and get any polluters involved to sort the problem out.

At a meeting some of us learned about taking water samples which are then taken to a lab the same day and tested for pollutants.  This helps with the sewage plant outflow information in particular.

In due course SWT will need the task force to help with Cranleigh wide water sampling and with restoring a stretch of the waterways near new housing.

Surrey Wildlife Trust are holding more events in Cranleigh – in July!





Flood Forum News, request for waterways task force

Flood Forum News, request for waterways task force


We are pleased to tell you that our MP for Guildford, which includes Cranleigh, Ewhurst, Alfold and Dunsfold,  Angela Richardson,  held a meeting held via ZOOM 18th June 2021.  Councillors and Officers from Cranleigh Parish Council, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council were joined by Thames Water, Environment Agency and Surrey Wildlife Trust, plus Cranleigh Civic Society.


Cranleigh Society called for immediate replacement programme 5 years ago – what has happened? Thames Water say that when there are bursts the section is replaced, any type of pipes, and 14km are being replaced in and around Cranleigh soon.  No further tests have been done for safety of drinking water.  New map of asbestos cement pipes requested.

WATERCOURSES CLEARANCE – keeping rivers flowing

Cranleigh Waters joinsthe  River Wey at Bramley & Shalford. A section runs down the Ewhurst Road.  The river carries huge amounts of rubbish, both natural and man made, and the grilles get blocked up. Local residents watch and report this often.  The Environment Agency engage Biffa to clear the mess and take the rubbish away, sometimes during a storm. They use CCTV to monitor.  Incident phone line 0800 80 70 60, Floodline 0345 988 1188

Riparian duties – owners of housing must ensure the ditches and waterways are kept clear on their land. see here 


Holdhurst Brook,  Avenue road, Longpoles Pole, Orchard Gardens, Bax Close, Horsham Road, Nightingales, Waverleigh Road, Brookside, Fortune Drive;      

Littlemead Brook, Littlemead Industrial Estate;

Nuthurst Stream, Wyphurst Road, Peregrine Close, East view Cottages, St James Place;

Alderbrook Stream, Guildford Road, Rowly


Surrey Wildlife Trust urge local land owners and farmers to work together towards obtaining government grants to “go wild” – Environmental Land Management Scheme -ELMS, for well designed Natural Flood Management Schemes -NFMS.  Councillors to contact locals and encourage them to build wetlands up stream to reduce flood risk and drying up of  waterways in summer.

New housing estates have been and are being built – Surrey CC do not consider the accumulative effects of this on flood risks from surface water runoff during planning applications. Nuthurst Culvert and Glebelands playing fields get inundated these days probably due to the housing estate along Amletts Lane. . 

Nothing has changed in terms of planning permissions. 

Actions – All public to tell all councils every time there are flooded areas. 


In the last 5 years nothing has changed to improve Cranleigh’s water quality and flow! Environment Agency provides permit to Thames Water for the outflow, to ensure treated water is safe to pump into Cranleigh Waters and beyond.  It was permitted to treat the sewage from 15,000 people since 1964, this has been renewed.  TW has recently built further treatment capacity because of extra housing. Nothing else has changed.  The river sometimes dries up and other times floods.  The outflow has high levels of phosphates. Phosphates come from human urine, waste and from farm run off and washing powders. Too much harms life in rivers and streams. The river plants and creatures are not in a healthy condition.

What is being done? Thames Water will upgrade the facilities as the need arises, never before housing is built and occupied. Treatment of outflow for excess phosphates is now scientifically possible and will soon come to Cranleigh – 2024.

Surrey Wildlife Trust and Cranleigh Civic Society working together to create a Waterways task force to monitor the health of the waterways, and report any particular problems and get them resolved. We need a team of volunteers…… this project was paused last time it started but this time we are definitely going ahead in June and July.

Saving trout? Infrastructure help for Cranleigh Waterways

Saving trout? Infrastructure help for Cranleigh Waterways

Join us –  10th June, 7pm for a guided river walk and talk

Cranleigh Community Rivers Project  –

Would you like to learn more about your local river? Find out where the accessible parts are? enjoy walking together and helping the environment? Would you like to work with your local community to help restore Cranleigh’s River for both people and wildlife?

The Cranleigh area is blessed with some of the finest headwater streams in Surrey but sadly the same can’t be said for much of the river running through the village. Pollution, physical modifications low flows and invasive species have all taken their toll over the years, leaving the river unable to support healthy wildlife populations.

The Cranleigh Community Rivers Project is being led by Surrey Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the Cranleigh Civic Society and funded by Thames Water. The project’s main aim is to reconnect the local community back with their rivers and will be training citizen scientists to monitor the river to help tackle pollution, invasive species and litter.

Through a series of training, monitoring and practical days the project aims to build a network of skilled volunteers across the Cranleigh area who can support the projects monitoring and restoration programme.

Our first event will be taking place on 10th June at 7pm where SWT Wetlands Officer Glen Skelton will be leading a guided walk across some of the headwater streams in Cranleigh to discuss what makes a good river, what the issues are and will take a closer look at some of the species living in and around the river.

If you can’t make this date then don’t worry as there will be a second walk on the evening of the 17th June.

To sign up to a walk please contact – Cranleigh Civic Society 01483 272987 or Cranleigh Parish Council 01483 272311

A full schedule of events including Water sampling days, Himalayan balsam bashing, River clean ups and practical restoration days is currently being put together and will be published soon.