Tap water alert could last weeks, says Thames Water

Thames Water works to replace a pipe outside the petrol station where the leak occurred
Thames Water said 616 homes had been given the advice as a precautionary measure [BBC]

Work to make tap water safe in a Surrey village after an alert over a previous fuel leak from a petrol station could take up to four weeks, Thames Water has said.

The company warned more than 600 households on Thursday of a “possible deterioration in quality” of drinking water in Bramley after tests indicated elevated levels of hydrocarbons.

Thames Water said work was ongoing to flush the network and replace pipes.

Asda, which owns the petrol station site, said it inherited the issue when it bought the site and was committed to resolving it as quickly as possible.

Explosion risk

On Saturday telecommunications company Openreach said there was a risk of an underground explosion in Bramley because of the ongoing petrol leak.

Openreach explained that it was doing everything it could to mitigate the increased likelihood of an explosion in the village as the leak had impacted part of its underground network.

Services for users in the area have also been impacted and it could take "many months" to make the ducts safe for engineers to access, the network provider added.

Openreach said it was working with communications providers to give alternative and temporary services to its impacted customers.

'Precautionary measure'

A Thames Water spokeswoman said: "We estimate the work will take at least three to four weeks, and we will be guided by the results of sampling.”

BBC reporter Daniel Sexton said there was "complete gridlock" in the village on Saturday.

On Wednesday residents were told by Thames Water that it was going to replace the mains water pipes that supplied St Catherine's School and this would require "extensive traffic management".

This included three-way traffic lights and a road closure on the junction of Snowdenham Lane and Horsham Road.

The works were estimated to take seven weeks starting from 28 May.

The impacted petrol station
Asda said it shared residents' frustrations [BBC/Daniel Sexton]

Complaints from villagers about the fuel leak date back to 2021 and residents have asked whether action could have been taken sooner.

Helen Melia, who has lived in Bramley for 20 years, told the BBC petroleum bubbles and dead fish were reported in a stream last year.

She has called for water testing data to be shown to residents and for authorities and companies involved to come up with an urgent, coordinated plan "to clean up petrol flowing under the village".

She said: "If it was not OK to drink the water on Thursday, why was it OK on Wednesday?"

Resident Simon Taylor said in January he reported to Thames Water that he could small petrol in his toilet.

A Thames Water bottled water station in Bramley
Thames Water has set up bottled water stations in Bramley [BBC]

After 616 households were given "do not drink notices", Thames Water said: “The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we would like to reassure residents that this is a precautionary measure.”

Two bottled water stations are open daily from 09:00 BST to 21:00 at Bramley Community Library and Artington Park & Ride, Guildford.

Ryan Aust, who lives in Blunden Court behind the water station at the library, said some residents are unable to leave their house to get supplies because of disabilities.

He explained that other residents were also unaware of the tap water warning as they were not on social media.

Residents have been advised not to drink the tap water, give it to pets, or use it to cook or prepare food, or brush teeth.

Thames Water has said people should not use the tap water even after boiling but that it could be used to wash and flush toilets.

The Wheatsheaf pub and hotel said it was using its dishwasher but doing a second clean with boiled bottled water, which was taking twice as long.

It said it was also having to leave more bottled waters in rooms so visitors could brush their teeth.

Thames Water said bottled water has been delivered to vulnerable customers in the area.

Asda has said: “We are continuing to work closely with Thames Water and other partners to address the issues we inherited after acquiring the Bramley petrol filling station site.

“We recognise the impact this has had on the residents of Bramley and share their frustrations.

“We are committed to working with all parties to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

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