Major update in 'Do not drink water' notice for Surrey village as new tests carried out

Road closed
-Credit: (Image: Surrey Live)

Three weeks on from being told not to drink tap water, residents in Bramley might be getting some good news. Water testing by Thames Water shows that the levels of hydrocarbons in the water have decreased and road works could end soon.

Since May 30, more than 600 properties have been unable to consume tap water due to a fuel leak. This led Thames Water to regularly test the water in the area to ensure the petrol in the ground was not affecting water quality.

This water testing meant that St Catherine’s school, which sits very close to the affected petrol station, was issued a 'do not drink' notice quickly followed by a larger section of the village. This was because test results, which have since been made public, showed that three postcodes (GU5 0AY, GU5 0AN and GU5 0AP) were breaching water regulations. Specifically, the amount of Benzene in the water was too high.

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However, Thames Water has now released more recent results that show that the levels of hydrocarbons in the water are coming back down. Data from the beginning of June shows that the levels of chemicals in the water have come back down, towards normal levels.

Google Map with highlighted sections for flagged postcodes
The highlighted postcodes are where the levels of hydrocarbons were flagged -Credit:Google Maps/ SurreyLive

Over the past few weeks, the organisation has worked to replace contaminated pipes in the area, which is coming to an end. This means that Bramley is closer to going back to normal. The company has also issued advice to residents on how they help.

Thames Water have said that the ‘do not drink’ notice will not be lifted until it is absolutely sure it’s safe to do so. They have also told residents that as the petrol moves through the ground it is possible that the problem areas will move, and further works may be needed.

Thames .Water van in front of roadworks
The roadworks are have been going on for weeks -Credit:Surrey Live

It is also important to bear in mind that the UK Health Security Agency has told SurreyLive that the data published by Thames Water showed that even in the flagged postcodes, chemical levels remained below World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guidelines and were therefore unlikely to present a risk to health.

A Thames Water spokesperson said: “Our customers' health and safety is our top priority. We have now replaced a key section of pipework close to the petrol station, following a fortnight of 24/7 work. This is an essential step for getting things back to normal for the impacted properties affected by the ‘do not drink’ notice.

“The precautionary “do not drink” measure, which was introduced on May 30, remains in place and follows recent water sampling and a fuel leak from the village petrol station.

“We will continue to deliver bottled water to impacted households until we can be confident there is no risk to the water we supply. We will also continue to carry out extensive sampling across the impacted area, so we are confident the hydrocarbons from the fuel are no longer at a level which is a risk to health.

“We are in discussion with the UK Health Security Agency over guidance on the precise number of properties we will need to test but we expect the process to last approximately a further one month.

“Customers can assist us by running their kitchen tap for between five and ten minutes every day. While this is not essential, it will help to move the water around properties internal plumbing.

“We have also taken the decision to replace some more of the pipes in the area to reduce the likelihood of further contamination from the fuel. As a result, we are keeping the current closure of Station Road in place until the middle of next week (26/06).

“We are doing all we can to reduce this timeframe and are also working with other utility companies to help them carry out any work they need to in the area as well. We are very sorry to the community for the disruption this is causing.

“However, because the fuel in the ground is widespread, we must be clear that this work will not solve all the problems. This will depend on the remedial activities being undertaken by EPS, the environmental consultants employed by Asda, who took control of the site in 2023, to clean up the ground water contamination. We will be guided by the results of our water quality testing and will only remove the drinking water restrictions once these are showing consistently clear results.

“Customers can find the latest information by visiting our website or FAQs.”

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