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?

What is Water Neutrality and How Can Councils adopt a robust policy?


 Water is an essential natural resource and the world’s freshwater supply is shown to be gradually decreasing year by year. Environment agencies and institutions have started to explore the concept and process of Water Neutrality as people across the globe begin to recognise the importance of their water footprint. It is a possible solution to reduce water usage and encourage positive actions within communities.


Water neutrality is the process whereby communities and institutions maintain a balance in their water usage by investing and funding projects that help to increase freshwater supply and reduce water usage. The development of a water neutral project will not add pressure to the overall water demand of a region. It will eventually have a net-zero impact on natural water supplies.

Water neutrality will become a necessary requirement for all developments in the future as the existing water supply in the world decreases. After a new development is constructed the total water demand should be the same as it was before the development was started.

There are 3 steps to achieving water neutrality:

  1. Reduce water usage
  2. Reuse water
  3. Offset water

Reducing water usage – Efficient water devices for taps, toilets, urinals, showers and other appliances such as low flush systems. Smart meters can indicate to consumers how much they are using and whether there are any leaks.

Reusing and recycling water – Rainwater harvesting systems from roofs, which can either be on an individual dwelling basis or for whole new developments. Grey water recycling from showers, etc which can be used again but requires a separate set of pipes and drains.  Black water recycling is usually the water recycled from toilets which needs to go through several treatment processes.

Offsetting water – Funding water efficiency audits. Retrofitting houses, schools and public buildings to enhance water efficiency.

It is estimated that a water neutral home could save about 112,000 litres of water per year and around 43.8 kg of carbon emissions produced from the water supply. A home might reduce water and energy bills by approx. £44 per year. It also is good for the environment as it reduces the amount of water taken from rivers, lakes and groundwater sources.

Gatwick Sub Regional Water Cycle Study

Water neutrality is not currently defined in legislation but is drawn from the Gatwick Sub Regional Water Cycle Study which states that ‘For every new development, total water use in the Sussex North Water Supply Zone after the development must be equal or less than the total water use in the region before the new development.’  Southern Water’s Sussex North Water Supply Zone is the first area in the country to apply this requirement. However, water neutrality will increasingly be necessary in other areas as demand for new housing is implemented. The Environment Agency has produced a list of areas which are subject to serious water stress. This covers many water companies in the Midlands and in the South East, including Thames Water which serves the Cranleigh area.

The Environment Agency

The Environment Agency has concluded that water neutrality will become a key factor in balancing the Government’s policy of delivering an accelerated rate of housing growth against constraints on the current and future availability of water resources. Achieving 100% level of water neutrality is an aspiration and it may not be possible or appropriate to set such a demanding target. Drivers and constraints are likely to be applied which will result in a lower %.

Nutrient neutrality and water neutrality are separate issues

Nutrient neutrality and water neutrality are separate issues with different causes but both effectively create a moratorium on new development. The Local Government Association has established guidelines to tackle both of these problems. Cleaning up our water courses is a crucial issue and is the responsibility of both the water companies who are still discharging raw sewage into rivers on a regular basis and the farming industry which will need to be given better guidance on the use of fertilisers and livestock practice in areas affected by nutrient neutrality.


The level of action required to address water supply issues can be summarised as follows:

Water Companies – Reduce leaks, provide infrastructure to increase supply and to change practices to reduce demand for water.

Industry and agriculture – Change practices to reduce demand for water.

Owners of existing homes and buildings – Change practices to reduce demand for water.

Developers – Build to the highest standard of water efficiency.

In conclusion, we as individuals or through pressure groups, must continue to press our Local and District Councillors for the introduction of both nutrient neutrality and water neutrality in their Planning Policies so that improvements can be made in coming years for the benefit of future generations.

Reference sources:

Sigma Earth water neutrality and how it can be achieved

Environment Agency

West Sussex Council

Local Government

What is concerning you here in Cranleigh? come and chat?

What is concerning you here in Cranleigh? come and chat?

Come along! Wednesday 25th January from 6pm

Cranleigh Society invites you to The Three Horseshoes pub – Wednesday 25 January – for a meet up to talk through concerns and actions we can take to improve lives in Cranleigh.

Do come along.  The pub food is good too so we have our evening meal there.

Issues we are following and trying to influence for the better –

Planning applications, High Street, Thames Water, Cycling routes, GP surgery, further medical services, conservation of our Heritage – Cranleigh Cottage Hospital, water quality in our streams,


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