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Fears of Spring and Fishpond Contamination at St Catherine’s Hill Continue

Published on: 6 Jul, 2020
Updated on: 8 Jul, 2020

St Catherine’s Spring taken in late June. The spring normally runs clear and is used by some as drinking water.

Network Rail is taking samples from springs close to St Catherine’s Hill to test for possible contamination after their drilling to stabilise the ground.

The spring at the bottom of Ferry Lane has been observed to become unusually sandy in appearance at times but clears quickly especially after rain.

But a large fish-stocked pond, fed by another nearby spring, has become murky with a yellowish hue, and a thin oily layer on top. So far, fish in the pond do not appear to have been affected.

Stuart Barnes, who owns the property with the pond, said: “There are definite disturbing signs of pollution in the streams and ponds which are fed from under the hill.

“We need to know whether the pollution will kill fish and other wildlife. And the water will end up in the River Wey and could cause some problems there as well.
The murky garden fishpond near St Catherine’s Hill.

The usually crystal clear garden pond near St Catherine’s Hill has taken on a murky, yellowish appearance.

“Local ponds are showing traces of what could be sand and cement. That started only in the last week or so. Perhaps Network Rail could tell us whether that is when they have been laying down concrete in the tunnel.

Fish in the pond do not appear to have been affected.

“It seems time for local green and environmental groups, the Parish Council and the St. Catherine’s Village Association to take an interest in this important matter before it is too late.

“Yesterday (July 5) I encountered two Network Rail workers who were looking at the St Catherine’s Spring in Ferry Lane. They told me there will be some experts coming to see the stream and my pond to investigate what is happening.

“Today I have heard that Network Rail are sending someone to take a sample from my pond tomorrow.”

On June 29, Network Rail, responding to a letter from Dragon reader Alex Clifford, said: “We are confident our works are not affecting any of the local watercourses.

“A geotechnical assessment has been undertaken which indicates the risk of contamination from our activities as extremely low. As soon as we received communication from Mr Clifford we rechecked our work, where there were no issues identified and the water was also running clear.

“We think the reason for its appearance was as a result of recent heavy rainfall causing sandy runoff from the surrounding area. But we are not complacent and we will continue to carefully monitor our worksite and the stream.”

The springs around St Catherine’s Hill flow all year round, even in periods of drought. Water that permeates easily through the Lower Greensand beds meets the underlying, impermeable Wealden Clay and is forced to emerge.

See also: We Are Confident Our Work Is Not Affecting St Catherine’s Spring


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Responses to Fears of Spring and Fishpond Contamination at St Catherine’s Hill Continue

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    July 6, 2020 at 11:30 pm

    What records are there for these watercourses/bodies for seasonal or other pollution?

    It’s easy to blame local civil works but what if, as Network Rail suggests as an alternative, it is a regular weather effect.

    There are many other historic or natural reasons for tainting of springs.

    By the way, not seen EA mentioned yet?

    Editor’s note: Local residents who have lived in the area for decades have never seen this discolouration before. The Guildford Dragon has already requested a response from the Environment Agency.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    July 7, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I can confirm that Network Rail has today taken samples of the water in the pond and promised that they would take samples also from the spring and stream in Ferry Lane. But because of the shortage of staff currently, it might take a week to get the results.

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