Category Archives: Environmental Health

Cranleigh’s rivers – are they healthy?

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Testing of Cranleigh’s rivers has always taken place occasionally and now  Surrey Wildlife Trust is helping to get more testing done and some improvements made.

Chemical levels are measured by groups of volunteers as are the numbers of river fly larvae, which indicate the health levels.

It is a fact that all sewage works clean the water as best they can before letting it go into the rivers. Here are two more facts:

  1. The levels of chemicals that remain, although allowed by government, are not good for wild life and cause the depletion of fish and their natural foods.
  2. In a flood situation, foul untreated sewage does come up in people’s homes which is why all the possessions have to be destroyed in the worst cases.

River dipping is a much needed and scientific past-time that some of us have undertaken on everyone’s behalf . We are hunting for river-flies as they are known, the tiny lavae of various species such as cadis fly, which are collected, counted and returned to the rivers. Afterwards the data collected is viewed by experts.

At a recent dip we found just one lava along with shrimps, and so the water is probably not to their liking, too many chemicals from somewhere.

We were dipping near to the back of Cranleigh Golf and Country club.

Image result for caddisfly

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Farnham’s recycling centre is under threat

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We’re constantly told that it’s good to recycle our waste where we can, however the of closing of local facilities that enable us to do this means that many do not. Hence, surrounding areas begin to see an increase in fly-tipping.

The latest news from our neighbours in Farnham is that their recycling centre is now under threat.

The below press article is taken from The Herald online, which also includes details of how you can oppose the closure:

THE Herald has launched a Don’t Dump the Dump campaign today – backing widespread calls of residents and councillors to save Farnham’s threatened community recycling centre.

Surrey County Council is currently consulting on further cuts to the county’s tips – with two of the three proposed cost-cutting options involving the permanent closure of six “smaller, less effective” community recycling centres across the county, including Bourne Mill in Farnham.

More than 1,500 people have since signed a petition objecting to the closure of Farnham’s tip (details below), while councillors also expressed disgust at Surrey’s proposals at a meeting of Waverley’s watchdog overview and scrutiny committee on Monday.

Waverley’s head of environmental services Richard Homewood confirmed on Monday the council witnessed an upsurge in fly-tipping incidents after Surrey reduced the opening hours and ended the free daily allowance of chargeable non-household waste at Farnham’s tip last autumn.

And chief among the concerns of residents and elected representatives is further cuts could add to the spike in illegal fly-tipping.

“The potential impact of closing two sites in Waverley – Farnham and Cranleigh – is far greater than changes in opening hours,” Mr Homewood told councillors.

“People have to drive another 10 miles – and people in Farnham won’t want to drive to Waverley’s only remaining CRC in Witley. It will mean our reject rates will go through the roof and we could see a lot more fly-tipping. These proposals could have a very significant impact.”

Farnham Residents opposition councillor Jerry Hyman agreed the closure was a “big issue for Farnham and Cranleigh”, commenting Farnham residents could choose to use recycling sites across the Hampshire border, impacting on neighbouring authorities.

“We must encourage people to respond to consultation in their thousands,” he said.

Tory councillor for Hindhead Peter Isherwood queried the impact on air quality if residents are forced to drive a distance to their nearest CRC, adding: “Bordon is about to introduce a £5 charge if you don’t live in Bordon. The idea of closing the Farnham site is absolutely mad.”

But Wyatt Ramsdale, Tory borough councillor for Rowledge and county member for Farnham North, said: “Surrey County Council hasto find money from somewhere.This is a consultation. I’ve objected to the Farnham closure but we need to come up with solutions.”

He suggested using any capital generated by the sale of the Bourne Mill CRC “to find a better site” elsewhere, as well as switching from black bin bags to clear plastic ones “to make it easier to spot builders’ waste”.

Responding, Mr Homewood said he understood the financial pressures on the county council, “but savings for Surrey will increase costs for Waverley. It will save Surrey operating costs but there will be more clearing-up costs.”

Encouraging residents to respond to Surrey’s consulation, Waverley’s portfolio holder for the environment Andrew Bolton said: “We must encourage the largest possible response from councillors and residents. Surrey listens to numbers.”

According to the latest government figures, 615 fly-tipping incidents were reported to Waverley Borough Council in 2017/18 – costing taxpayers £30,000 in removal costs, a 43 per cent increase on the costs Waverley suffered in 2015/16.

In the past 12 months, Waverley has issued 36 fixed-penalty notices to people who fly-tipped.

The Herald has asked Surrey County Council how much it cost the council to operate Farnham’s CRC in 2017/18, and how much (if any) revenue the tip generated – but is yet to receive a response.

Waverley leader Julia Potts was another of those to voice “real concerns” that fly-tipping could increase as a result of cutbacks at Farnham’s recycling centre in 2017.

Responding to the latest threat to the service this week, Miss Potts said: “We have consistently raised our concerns with Surrey at officer, portfolio holder and leadership levels that by closing all but one of the community recycling centres in Waverley there will be a negative impact on residents and the environment, ie additional pollution and vehicles on the rural roads. We are hearing many concerns from our residents and will be responding in detail to the consultation.”

As well as welcoming responses to its consultation online at, Surrey is hosting a number of drop-in sessions for residents to quiz officers in person.

No drop-in has yet been scheduled for Farnham, however, with the nearest session set to take place in the Wilfrid Noyce Community Centre, Godalming, from 10am to noon on December 12.

Surrey’s consultation runs until 11.59pm on January 4.

As well as completing Surrey’s survey online at, Herald readers are encouraged to sign Farnham resident Yolande Hesse’s petition at and express their concerns in writing to their county councillor.

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Cranleigh Flood Forum Update – 18 March 2018

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Many of you attended the third Cranleigh Flood Forum on 9 March, hosted by Anne Milton MP, when discussions continued on sewer and surface water pipe misconnections, concerns about the sewage treatment works and Cranleigh Waters, questionable planning decisions by the Joint Planning Committee (JPC) of Waverley Borough Council and other matters.

However the asbestos cement (AC) drinking water pipes and the very controversial approval of the Thakeham homes site in Elmbridge Road dominated the meeting.

We, Cranleigh Civic Society, reported that, just the previous day, we had a high level meeting with a leading Insurer to discuss the insurance implications of both these very real concerns.

This Insurer confirmed what we had heard from a leading Insurer of County, Borough and Town/Parish Councils – this is that, except for a few specialist schemes, all UK Public and Products Liability policies have a total asbestos exclusion. This follows the inhaled asbestos disaster, where claims are still being made, and which is reported to have cost Insurers worldwide $100 billion – and which nearly brought Lloyd’s of London to it’s knees in the 1990s.

So, at the meeting, the we urged Waverley and Thames Water to check their own policies as, if they have no asbestos cover, and asbestos fibres in eroding and bursting drinking water pipes (which make up 29.6% of Cranleigh’s pipes) do lead to ingested asbestos fibre health problems, they could well have to finance both the claims and legal costs out of their own fund – for decades.

Of course, Cranleigh is not alone – this is a matter of concern and receiving attention throughout the World including Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Europe so we continue to monitor activity worldwide.

Whilst we are pleased Thames Water are starting to replace Cranleigh’s AC pipes, our aim is to seek a cessation of all connections of new housing to the drinking water system until all the AC pipes have been replaced with new, safe plastic pipes. Failure to do so would mean that, as new homes are connected to the existing system, it would result in the flow having to be increased which would lead to faster erosion and more frequent bursts.

We also discussed with the Insurer the decision by Waverley to grant permission for the building of 54 houses on a flood plain – an area which regularly floods seriously with the last occasion being as recently as December 2013.

The JPC ignored the detailed evidence submitted by us and, instead, relied on the report provided by consultants engaged and paid by the applicant, Thakeham Homes. Their representative was even allowed to sit at the planners table – very unorthodox.

Prior to the meeting on 5 October 2017, a member of the JPC submitted his flood risk evidence to the Chair of the JPC but it was ignored. That same member tried to have his evidence considered at the meeting but he was shouted down by the Chair and told to shut up.

The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is Surrey County Council and the Flood Risk Management Strategy and Partnerships Team Leader (who attended the Flood Forum) confirmed to a Councillor, in an email dated 21 February 2018, that when considering building on this type of site, the planning “process is in part reliant on robust and accurate feedback from the community” but the JPC chose to ignore this guidance and the detailed evidence, including photos, submitted by Cranleigh Civic Society.

So there is the terrible prospect of families buying new homes built on a flood plain and which are highly likely to flood, with all the dire consequences, because of a seriously flawed planning decision.

When, at the meeting last week, we explained this situation to the Insurance Company it was made very clear that obtaining flood insurance on this site would be very difficult if the Insurer agrees that the evidence presented to them is sound. Top UK Insurers do not rely on the flood maps available to all on websites – they have invested in their own exceptionally detailed flood mapping, so detailed that they can have separate risk classifications for individual houses. They pay particular attention to new housing developments including local knowledge, nearby postcodes, topography and using the very latest technology.

Perhaps the unavailability of flood insurance from reputable Insurers may stop innocent families making the worst financial decision of their lives?

Anne Milton was of the view that a meeting should be arranged with Thakeham Homes, attended by all the relevant organisations, to explain the very real issues with developing this site, and undertook to put this in motion.

Needless to say we welcome this initiative by our MP but will Cranleigh Civic Society be invited? We sincerely hope so!


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Anne Milton opens Flood Gates

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On Monday the 24th of July, Anne Milton MP organised a meeting at the village hall that she described as a flood forum and it turned out to be much more than that. She brought together Waverley planners, Thames Water, the Environment Agency, the Drinking Water Inspectorate, Public Health England, Surrey County Council, the National Flood Forum, Cranleigh Parish Council and Cranleigh Civic Society to discuss openly several of the major concerns Cranleigh’s residents have raised with her. 65 members of the public came along and several parish and borough councillors also attended.

The plan was to address these concerns and direct them specifically to the authority responsible, so that the answers could be heard by all. We were very happy to hear sewerage problems, flooding and asbestos cement water pipes all discussed openly. It was always understood that the problems would not be resolved then and there but that efforts could be made to address them in the coming weeks and months.

To aid this, small sub committees were formed to work on specific areas and they will report back at the next meeting planned for the autumn. It was just the beginning of what will be a long term effort but a positive step and one that Cranleigh Civic Society welcomes. Members of the Society volunteered to join sub committees and share the information they have collected specific to each area so we will be close to the decision making process.

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Blue Asbestos

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As you will be aware we have had major concerns about our ageing and deteriorating asbestos cement drinking water pipes for some time now. Due to the age of previous significant development in Cranleigh in the 60’s, we suspected that they may contain crocidolite (blue asbestos), in addition to chrysotile (white asbestos). Although Thames Water assured us that the pipes were constructed from white asbestos, our own research did not reflect this, and we have been pushing for testing to be carried out.

Over the past two weeks we were successful in getting Thames Water to send a section of drinking water pipe, being replaced in the Hitherwood area, for independent testing to confirm the presence of blue asbestos (crocidolite). This has now been confirmed.

The presence of crocidolite (blue asbestos) is not the result we were hoping for, but it is in line with the guidance given on the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) website under the Asbestos section.  HSE state that asbestos cement pipes made prior to 1969 are likely to contain crocidolite.

A further section of pipe from the Summerlands area has been tested and this has been shown to contain only white asbestos. We have asked also requested details from Thames Water of the percentage of blue to white asbestos, and to assess how much deterioration has taken place in the pipes. Furthermore, we have requested that a section of pipe be tested from the Park Mead area, although we have been told that this will not be carried out until there is a burst pipe there. We will be challenging Thames water on this.

Blue and white asbestos have very different risks associated with them, with the crocidolite being considered more hazardous. We should stress that the majority of evidenced high risks are associated with inhaling asbestos fibres, however, there does appear to be a growing evidence base worldwide that suggests that there is also a risk associated with ingested fibres.

Recently Australia and New Zealand have announced replacement programmes for their asbestos cement pipes, and in the USA they already test drinking water for asbestos fibres, and have set maximum guidelines, testing is NOT carried out in the UK.

We have been asking the authorities, including the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), since September 2016 to assess the risk to Cranleigh residents from a high percentage of ageing and deteriorating asbestos cement drinking water pipes without success. Asbestos cement pipes have a 50-70 year design life and some of these in Cranleigh are approaching 70 years old. The issue also affects residents in Dunsfold, Ewhurst and Alfold, we have not looked into any of the other surrounding areas. In a recent planning application in Waverley for development in Alfold, once again the Society advised Waverley of the existence of blue asbestos in the drinking water network, once again we were ignored.

We have questioned the position of the DWI.  Whilst their blanket statement broadly states that there is no consistent evidence to suggest that asbestos is dangerous when ingested, we have studied their database of evidence and that of other qualified evidence available and we are of the opinion that the DWI, and the World Health Organisation (WHO), have based their studies in the main on chrysotile (white asbestos).  Furthermore, many of the reports back in the 1970s and 1980s were sponsored by the asbestos industry, and in particular by the Chrysotile Institute, and they should be treated with some caution, as well as being based mainly on the effects of chrysotile.

In January 2017, in discussion with HSE, Cranleigh Civic Society circulated our own Risk Assessment under the Health and Safety Act looking at data from contemporary research carried out over the last few years, some of it by highly respected organisations such as the American Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (a leading publication respected around the world).  Our increasing concerns surrounding crocidolite remain, because of its needle-like structure, it has the potential to penetrate membranes in the body more easily than the more curly fibres of white asbestos.

Our research is continuing, and we have received this from a contact in New Zealand.  It was put out by Radio New Zealand and is now on their website:

‘A $2.2 billion price tag has been put on the cost of replacing the country’s asbestos water supply pipelines.

 Drinking water delivered through functioning asbestos pipes isn’t risky, but airborne particles from broken pipes can be dangerous.

 Asbestos cement pipes were installed for local water supply networks from the 1950s to the 1970s, and manufacturers stopped producing them in the mid 1980’s. The pipes’ life expectancy is about 50 years so many will be due for replacement.

 Functioning pipes being used for water do not pose a threat to health. The World Health Organisation has said swallowing asbestos present in water does not present the same cancer risk as inhaling dry particles. However, asbestos pipes that are cut or broken when dry can pose a health risk if particles are released into the air.


The Water Services Association of Australia has estimated it could cost $AU8b ($NZ9b) to safely remove Australia’s roughly 40,000km of worn-out asbestos piping.

Water New Zealand estimated the total length of this country’s water supply pipelines at 36,436km, with the network valued at $8.7b. It estimated 9000km of those pipes were made of asbestos cement and that they would need to be replaced in the next 20 to 30 years.

With many of the pipes nearing the end of their useful life, Water New Zealand chief executive John Pfahlert said local councils would have to do careful planning to make the replacement affordable to ratepayers. There were a number of available options cheaper than digging them out, such as relining existing pipes or leaving decommissioned pipes in the ground and placing new pipes around them, he said. Wellington Water spokesperson Alex van Paassen said replacing asbestos cement pipes, as opposed to those made of other materials, did require safety precautions. However, he said, those precautions would not add a significant amount to the overall cost of replacement. Mr van Paassen said pipes in Wellington were prioritised for renewal based on how critical the need for repairs was, or how many households were served, and not on whether they were made of asbestos.

 “Wellington Water had a regular pipe renewal schedule for all types of pipes”, he said.’

We have continued to keep our MP Anne Milton informed of our research and she has now arranged a meeting on 24th July in Cranleigh to investigate this further. Thames Water, the DWI and other relevant parties have confirmed their attendance.  This is also following the petition sent to Anne Milton following our public meeting on 25th May. We are grateful to her for listening to our concerns and seizing this opportunity to seek answers.

Cranleigh Civic Society, in consultation with the Government’s Health and Safety Executive, prepared a full Risk Assessment on the network of asbestos cement pipes in Cranleigh and sent this to Waverley Borough Council on the 29th January.  Waverley ignored it.

We are aware that this subject will cause a high degree of concern in the village and we will of course keep you informed of any developments.

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Last Chance to Sign our Petition – deadline 30 April 2017

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We have previously highlighted our concerns about the asbestos cement pipes that supply drinking water to 29.6% of the homes in Cranleigh.

Read our previous article in full here.

We have recently found that over 30% of the drinking water pipes in Ewhurst are also asbestos cement. This is compared to about 4% in Godalming and Haslemere.

We are collecting signatures on a petition as we are so concerned that this issue is not being taken seriously, and ask for Ewhurst residents to sign as well.

The petition calls on Anne Milton to ask for an independent assessment of the risk to the health of local people from the asbestos cement pipes in almost 30% of the drinking water pipes in Cranleigh and surrounding villages.  Many of our members signed a paper version of the petition at the recent AGM and these were added to the on-line petition.

At the time of writing, the petition has 346 signatures, which is a great start – please add your details before 30th April.

Click here to sign the petition.
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Burst Pipes Update

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Since the water main burst on Barhatch Road, The Cranleigh Civic Society has been investigating water supply capacity and issues within the Cranleigh network.

Since September 2016 there have been further burst drinking water pipes on:

  • Avenue Road
  • The Ridgeway
  • Elmbridge Road  and outside Bridge Cottages
  • The Common
  • Wyphurst Road
  • Horsham Road
  • Durnsford Way
  • Wanborough Lane
  • Bloxham Road

Why have all these water pipes burst?

Thames Water say that the big burst water main on Barhatch Road was due to a faulty valve which caused excessive pressure in the water network.

Thames Water has continually highlighted capacity issues in relation to water supply in Cranleigh, in comments against significant planning applications, stating that the existing infrastructure has insufficient capacity to meet the additional demands of the proposed developments approved in Cranleigh.

However, Thames Water seem unable, or perhaps unwilling, to object  to any development on the grounds of water supply constraints and state that they have a statutory duty to provide water at a minimum of 1 bar of pressure.

Cranleigh Society is concerned that the recent series of burst pipes indicates that our water system can not cope with the increased pressure required to service the over a thousand houses that Waverley Borough Council has already granted permission for in Cranleigh.

Thames Water confirmed to us that:

The development of new properties won’t result in an increase of water pressure. We carefully monitor the pressure levels across the five metered areas that cover Cranleigh, and make sure they are in within acceptable tolerance. When new properties are connected, it will increase the amount of water in that section of our network, but the pressure should remain fairly constant.”

Reading between the lines this seems to state that water pressure will increase. And, in our last meeting with Thames Water on Friday 17 February 2017, when pressed for an answer about potential increase in water pressure to accommodate new housing, the answer was that pressure would increase.

Asbestos Cement Pipes

During our investigations about water supply, we have discovered purely by chance, that Cranleigh has ageing asbestos cement (AC) water main pipes.  This information was shared with residents by contractors working on the burst water pipes, who were seen wearing  masks, and this has now been confirmed by Thames Water.

Thames Water Asset Map Jan 2017

These pipes were first manufactured in the UK in the late 1920s and became widespread during the 1950s, 1960s and, we understand, the early 1970s. Due to the risk to health following exposure to asbestos, importation, supply and use of all asbestos products have been banned in the UK since 1999.

Residents have raised concerns with us about these pipes and we have tried to find out as much information as we can to share with you.

We spoke to people working on the pipes in Cranleigh and requested further details from Thames Water to ascertain the reason for all the recent bursts, to raise concerns about the ageing AC pipes, some of which are now between 50 to 70 years old, and whether the potential increase in water pressure within the Cranleigh water network, due to significant development, might increase asbestos fibres within the water supply.

Below is a photo of the 6″ AC main in Fettes Road, taken on 29-Sep-16 at 4pm.


We found a report commissioned by the Department for the Environment in 1998, and issued to the Water Industry, mentioning that “Concern has been expressed over the possibility of asbestos fibres being released into the water supply by deteriorating pipework.”

It is also suggested that that the “aggressiveness of the water, and the length and age of the pipes probably contribute to the concentration of fibres found.

Furthermore, it highlighted that “There is a clear relationship between the use of AC water mains and population density i,e, large rural areas, contain a relatively large proportion of AC water mains“.

You can read a full copy of the report here: Water Industry Report re Asbestos Water Main 1998

On 27 September 2016 Thames Water confirmed to us that:

“Although some types of Asbestos can be hazardous when handled, it is not considered to be hazardous to human health when used in potable water networks and Thames Water have around 792km of Asbestos Cement pipes out of its network of 31,500km water mains. Research available on the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) website provides some clarifications here, stating that:

The World Health Organisation considered asbestos in drinking water arising from asbestos cement pipe in their 1993 edition of the Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. The guidelines state “Although well studied, there has been little convincing evidence of the carcinogenicity of ingested asbestos in epidemiological studies of populations with drinking water supplies containing concentrations of asbestos…There is therefore no consistent evidence that ingested asbestos is hazardous to health and thus it was concluded that there was no need to establish a health-based guideline value for asbestos in drinking water’

NB the above references ingested asbestos and there is no suggestion that asbestos is, or could be entering the customer’s water supply here at any level of concentration.”

We wanted to find out more so we looked at the:

World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines

We found out that the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality FOURTH EDITION discovered no consistent evidence that ingested asbestos is hazardous to health. Although it is recognised that asbestos cement pipes can contribute to fibre levels in drinking water and are hazardous to people cutting the pipes.

This extract is taken from the report, which in the main matched with what we had been told by Thames Water with the exception of the information in the last paragraph (“The primary issue surrounding asbestos-cement pipes is for people working on the outside of the pipes (e.g. cutting pipe), because of the risk of inhalation of asbestos dust.“) :

Asbestos is introduced into water by the dissolution of asbestos-containing minerals and ores as well as from industrial effluents, atmospheric pollution and asbestos-cement pipes in the distribution system. Exfoliation of asbestos fibres from asbestos-cement pipes is related to the aggressiveness of the water supply. Limited data indicate that exposure to airborne asbestos released from tap water during showers or humidification is negligible. 

There is therefore no consistent evidence that ingested asbestos
is hazardous to health, and thus it is concluded that there is no need to establish health-based guideline value for asbestos in drinking-water. The primary issue surrounding asbestos-cement pipes is for people working on the outside of the pipes (e.g. cutting pipe), because of the risk of inhalation of asbestos dust.”

We have also looked at WHO background information

You can read the full report here:

Asbestos in Drinking-water Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality

US Guidelines

However, although WHO has still not issued guidelines for asbestos in drinking water, we found this is not the same in the US, where the Environmental Protection Agency has included asbestos fibres in the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations since 1992.

You can read more about this issue – Drinking Water Quality: Problems and Solutions- By N. F. Gray) .

UK Information

Looking towards the UK we found a report carried out for the Drinking Water Inspectorate (UK) in May 2002 which concluded that:

7. Conclusions

Inhaled asbestos is a known human carcinogen and considerable care is required in handling asbestos products, including asbestos cement water pipes, to prevent the inhalation of asbestos fibres. The tumours caused by asbestos are mesotheliomas and are considered to be characteristic of asbestos exposure. The evidence that inhaled asbestos can cause tumours at any other site in the body is, at best, equivocal. However, the evidence with regard to mesotheliomas strongly supports the contention that fibre size and surface characteristics are important in the pathogenicity of asbestos. Fibres greater than 8 mm in length and less than 0.25 mm in diameter are the greatest concern with very short fibres of less than 1 mm considered to be of low risk. Asbestos fibres from drinking water are either in this latter category or are of much greater diameter than those of greatest concern and so the risk to health from inhalation of such fibres is considered to be low.

That asbestos cement pipes can contribute to fibre levels in drinking water is not in doubt but asbestos fibres from natural sources are found in the great majority of waters, whether or not they have passed through asbestos cement pipes. Asbestos in drinking water is not, therefore, solely a function of asbestos cement pipe.

The evidence from epidemiological studies and from laboratory animal feeding studies does not provide support for the view that asbestos from drinking water is of concern. WHO concluded in their 1993 Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality “Although well studied, there has been little convincing evidence of the carcinogenicity of ingested asbestos in epidemiological studies of populations with drinking water supplies containing high concentrations of asbestos. Moreover in extensive studies in laboratory species, asbestos has not consistently increased the incidence of tumours of the gastrointestinal tract. There is therefore no consistent evidence that ingested asbestos is hazardous to health and thus it was concluded that there was no need to establish a health-based guideline value for asbestos in drinking water”.

The WHO Drinking Water Committee did not regard asbestos as necessary for reconsideration in the current phase of the rolling revision.

Asbestos cement pipes have been widely used for drinking water distribution and there are many kilometres to be found all over the world, including many European countries. Few countries still install asbestos cement pipe, primarily because of issues with handling, but there appears to be no concern for the health of consumers receiving the water and there appear to be no programmes to replace asbestos cement pipe for this reason.”

You can read the full report here: dwi70_2_135_asbestos-cement-pipes

The Water Industry Report re Asbestos Water Main 1998 raised the possibility that higher instances of  asbestos fibres were present in deteriorating AC pipes and information on the transmigration of ingested asbestos through the gastrointestinal tract to other tissues has been contradictory and inconclusive.

Replacement Pipework

We feel that there should be an ongoing programme to replace all Asbestos Cement pipes with plastic.

However, Thames Water have confirmed that:

The consensus after studies of the effects of asbestos fibres in drinking water, show there is little evidence of any health concerns. Although some types of Asbestos can be hazardous when handled, it is not considered to be hazardous to human health when used in potable water networks. For this reason there are no plans to replace the current sections of asbestos piping, other than for an operational need.

They have also confirmed that when pipes do burst and are replaced:

If we find asbestos pipes when carrying out work, we take extra care to ensure our staff and customers are safe at all times. All pipes will be washed through to avoid the risk of asbestos entering out network.”

When pipes burst, we understand that they are then replaced with new plastic pipes, using an “Aquagrip” connection. However, it appears that old redundant AC pipework remains in the ground.  We have concerns that this might expose future road workers to risk when they carry out further groundwork.

Aquagrip Connection:


We think that the AC pipework should be routinely removed from site when it is no longer in use and treated as special waste.

Thames Water responded as follows to our request for more information about redundant pipework:

I can answer your question regarding leaving the abandoned pipes in situ.

In accordance with current Environment Agency Guidelines (EA Regulatory Position Statement 008, version 7 “Leaving decommissioned pipe in excavations” issued 2014), intact or damaged asbestos pipes, including sections damaged by pipe bursting, can be abandoned and left in the ground as intact pipes provided that:

 i ) any excavated sections or broken pieces of pipe that are not fully contained are removed to a suitably authorised site

 ii ) the presence and condition of the asbestos is recorded on corporate records and that information is passed to other utility companies or others in response to pipe location requests.”

Thames Water have confirmed that they intend to start a replacement programme early 2018.



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Brook Sewage Saga Goes On!

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We first wrote about the sewage in the brook saga on 2 June 2015. Can you believe it, nearly 17 months later and the problem is still not resolved.

map of raw sewage entering watercourse in Cranleigh

In the intervening months Cranleigh Civic Society has sent countless emails and made several calls to Thames Water, the Environment Agency and Waverley Borough Council’s Environmental Health Department.

The fact that this problem seems to have been going on for over 7 years, some residents say longer, is a disgrace.  We can’t help but feel that there is something seriously wrong with our sewerage system when the continued discharge of raw sewage into a brook off the high street remains unchecked for so many years.

After unsuccessful attempts to get the brook problem resolved, in April 2015 the Cranleigh Civic Society took water samples, got them analysed at an independent specialist laboratory and reported the results to the Environment Agency (the E coli result was 24 times above the allowable limit).

section of brook in Cranleigh with raw sewage

The Environment Agency response was immediate, they elevated the brook to “Priority Status” and the very next day they served a 30 day notice on Thames Water to deal with the issue.

In May 2015 a cleanup of the brook took place and Thames Water commenced a series of extensive dye tests around Cranleigh, whilst keeping us informed of their progress.


On 1 June 2015 Thames Water confirmed that they had found units on the High Street that had misconnected their foul sewer lines into the surface water sewer draining into the brook. The two properties were advised how to resolve this issue, and we understand that arrangements were made for the connections to be made to the correct sewer system.

However, Thames Water continued with their investigations, as they advised us that two units could not on their own account for the extent of the problem in the brook.

Subsequently, they carried out more camera and dye testing working their way down the High Street sewers.

In August 2015, the Environment Agency (EA) confirmed that Thames Water had discovered a significant misconnection, again located in the High Street.

Apparently, according to Thames Water remedial work for this issue was completed in October 2015; and it was understood that this should resolve most of the issues in the brook.

Thames Water said they were also aware of a couple of  minor outstanding issues  (sinks that need re-plumbing) that they were going to follow up. However, it was stressed that these shouldn’t cause significant growth of fungus in the brook.

Finally, EA confirmed that Thames Water were continuing to work on the problem, including doing some additional clean-up work – “after which they believe they will be able to better judge whether or not there are any other significant misconnections or other pollution sources.”

However that was not the end! After further reports of continued sewage in the brook yet another clean up was carried out on 26 November 2015.


There was a a lull over the winter months with the onset of heavier rainfall and colder temperatures.  However, in April 2016 sewage was reported to be discharging into the brook once more.

Cranleigh Civic Society advised the EA on 4 May 2016 once again that with the onset of warmer weather sewage fungus was flourishing in the brook  (see image below).  You can also see that a bund (grey pipe),  had appeared across the exit point of the surface water sewer pipe, which was not even touching the surface of the brook, and therefore was of no use whatsoever.

4 May 2016 Brook Cranleigh sewage fungus

On 6 May 2016 the EA replied confirming that “We were made aware of a ‘sludge-like deposit’ on the bed of the channel in the Knowle Park area on the 28/04/16. Thames Water attended the incident within 2 hours of the report. They were unable to identify a discharge to the river, but have logged the incident and confirmed to us that they will be sending out a member of their network team to investigate this matter further. We are currently awaiting further information from them.

On 9 May 2016 the EA confirmed that they had been in contact with Thames  Water who had carried out a CCTV survey of the sewers in the areas and have detected a “small leak from the foul sewer” into the surface water drain.

The solution they said was for Thames Water to re-attend the site to plan works to rectify the issue  The proposal was to to reline the leaking sewers or reroute them.

EA also confirmed that “the incident is having a localised low-level environmental impact on the channel that feeds the Littlemead Brook near Knowle Park. Approximately 10m of the channel was observed to be impacted by sewage fungus.

We have seen no major sewer relining/rerouting work taking place.

9 September 2016 and residents reported sewage fungus again in the brook, which we subsequently reported to Thames Water and Environmental Health at Waverley.  Tankers arrived on 12 September to suck out sewage from the brook and so the problem continues…….

A resident advised us that they had a telephone call on 14 September 2016 from Thames Water confirming that a tanker would be going to the brook on Knowle Lane every six weeks to pump out the sewage until the problem was solved.

The latest email from Thames Water on 19 October 2016 repeats the same old unacceptable story of unknown sewage misconnections into Thames Water’s  surface water sewer in the High Street discharging into the brook:

From the latest reports received, it would appear that there may be further and previously unidentified properties that also have misconnected sewer pipes and we will have to arrange for further testing and investigations to be carried out. I have asked that one of our Engineers reattend Cranleigh High Street and carry out further investigations into the reported problems.”

Thames Water confirmed that they would provide an update by no later than 2 November 2016.  We are not holding our breath.

We want to know what is really going on with the sewerage network in Cranleigh?  Is there a significant problem with the ageing main sewer running down the high street? Is the sewage tank on the corner of John Whiskar Drive and Knowle Lane leaking into the brook?

Against this backdrop of issues, Waverley Borough Council keep granting planning permission for huge estates in and around the village, taking no account of this and other ongoing sewage problems.  For the latest application by Thakeham Homes,  Thames Water has not even applied a Grampian style condition requiring upgrade work to the sewerage network prior to commencement of the development.  This is completely unacceptable.

We intend to keep investigating the problems with our sewerage network and water supply and will keep you updated as soon as we can.

We have kept our MP Anne Milton informed of the situation and she has also been pressing Thames Water for answers.  If you are concerned please email Anne Milton and ask her to continue to pursue this matter on your behalf.  Thank you.

Cranleigh Civic Society is run completely by volunteers, please help us to keep you informed and become a member.

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Cranleigh Floods!

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In just a few minutes after a heavy downpour on Saturday afternoon (25 June) parts of Cranleigh were very quickly flooded.

Knowle Lane 25 June 2016

This incident shows exactly how rapidly flooding can occur and provides a clear indication of how catastrophic a prolonged period of heavy rain would be on residents, as happened in 2013.  And this is before another 1520 houses are built, mostly on Cranleigh’s flood plain!

Car stuck in flood water Cranleigh 2013-14

December 2013

When flooding occurs it is not just from rainwater, it also contains raw sewage which bubbles up from the sewage network and mixes with the flood water.  You should not attempt to clear this away yourself without protective clothing and you should not let children play in flood water.

Report Flooding


Thames Water (24-hour customer service team on 0800 316 9800)

Waverley Borough Council Environmental Health on 01483 523393, or email

Environment Agency (0800 807 060)


Flood Water Precautions

Precautions to be aware of when dealing with flooding to prevent unnecessary additional health problems:

• keep children out of the water

• wherever possible, try to avoid coming into direct contact with floodwater. If you have to go into the water, wear waterproof gloves and rubber boots and remember to be careful of potentially concealed hazards.

• wash your hands – this is the most important way to get rid of harmful bugs. Use warm, clean water and soap before eating or preparing food, after being in contact with floodwater, sewage or with items that have been in the water. Use cold water to wash if warm is not available. If there is no clean water, use disposable soapy, wet wipes or sanitising gel to carefully clean all parts of your hands and dry them.

• keep open cuts or sores clean and use waterproof plasters to prevent them being exposed to floodwater.

• do not eat any food that has been in contact with floodwater or sewage.

Cranleigh War Memorial from this:

Cranleigh War Memorial starts to flood 25-06-16


To this in minutes:

Child in flood water Cranleigh Memorial 25-06-16

Cranleigh War Memorial 25-06-16

Cranleigh War Memorial

Cranleigh War Memorial 25-06-16

For more information on local flooding:


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Cranleigh Society Objects to Amlets Lane

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The Cranleigh Society has written to object to the Amlets Lane full planning application and Cala Homes request to remove or alter the pre-commencement condition to improve Cranleigh’s sewerage system.

Please add your own objections here too:

Application by Cala Homes for full planning ref WA/2016/0517 for 125 dwellings on Land South of Amlets Land and North of Roberts Way available on the Waverley Borough Council Planning Portal.

Cranleigh Society Objection:

The Cranleigh Civic Society object to the removal or amendment of Condition 40 requiring the pre-commencement and completion of a strategy for improvement of the existing sewerage system.

Any alteration in this condition would put existing residents at increased risk from sewage flooding, especially adjacent properties in Copse Edge and Summerlands.  It would also be contrary to up-to-date advice from Thames Water and Waverley’s Environmental Health Officer.

Waverley are aware of the lack of capacity in Cranleigh’s sewerage system.  This is well recorded and mentioned in Waverley’s Sustainability Appraisal Part One Sept 2014:

“Cranleigh Sewage Treatment Works (STW) and existing sewage treatment capacity is unlikely to be able to support anticipated demand. “

There is a requirement for a lead in time for an upgrade to the sewage treatment works of a minimum of three years, this will also need Ofwat funding.

The next funding round for Ofwat won’t be until 2020.  If Thames Water has a successful bid then it needs a minimum 3-5 years to carry out the work.  That takes us to a completion date between 2023 and 2025.  That’s a minimum of 7 years’ time.

There is also the ongoing problem of the ephemeral nature of Cranleigh Waters which again dried up earlier this month – 9 June 2016 (The Environment Agency has been advised).  Waverley has a responsibility under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) to ensure they do not allow the status of this river to deteriorate further.  The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed to us that they have commenced proceedings for an Environmental Permit Review (last permit was issued in 2009) for Thames Water to discharge liquid effluent in to this river.  As you are aware the current permit does not take into account WFD limits and Thames Water are greatly exceeding the required level for phosphates, diatoms and macrophytes and at present the technology does not exist, although trials are taking place, to try and bring the level of phosphates down to reduce the detrimental effect on the river’s biodiversity.  We have had reports of catastrophic loss of fish by the local angling society in Cranleigh Waters.

This is all New Evidence and was NOT available to the Inspector at the recent Berkeley Homes appeal.

As you are also aware the EA are only a regulator with regard to the WFD and can only provide expert advice.  It is therefore up to Waverley to make a decision based on that expert advice and advice from other statutory bodies.  It is the planning authority’s responsibility to “be confident that this development will not result in unacceptable risks from pollution.

At present we can reasonably be certain that the additional sewage from this site will increase pollution in Cranleigh Waters and this will have a detrimental and undermining effect on the Wey Catchment.

Any sewage strategy for this site must include details for the sewerage upgrades required to accommodate this development, as well as mitigation measures for Cranleigh Waters, furthermore, this site must be considered to be deliverable as required under the NPPF.

You can read more about the Cala Homes, Amlets Lane site here:








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