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Summer/Autumn 2022

Investigation begins into the feasibility, cost and options for an automatic irrigation system. A review of boreholes in the general area suggests that using a borehole at the club instead of mains water would be preferable on environmental grounds, and although it would entail a higher capital cost the pay-back in terms of saving on water bills should be within about 10 years at current mains water tariffs.

Information and advice about irrigation system design options is obtained from several other croquet clubs with irrigation systems, which are all very willing to share the information.

Written confirmation is obtained from both Affinity Water and the national Environment Agency that they have no objections to the use of a borehole for water supply at our location, and that for our expected consumption volume (under 20m3 per day) an extraction licence is not required.

Plans for an irrigation system at the club are developed. The system would be funded from a combination of existing club funds and a campaign to obtain some grants and donations.

June 2023

A hydrogeological survey is commissioned for a possible borehole to supply the water. The survey reports that the local geology is favourable, with underlying chalk that should facilitate an ample supply of water with the water table expected at a depth of 20 to 25 metres.

August 2023

Tenders are invited from a selection of borehole contractors.

September 2023

The winning bidder is selected: Smith & Webb, a local firm.

November 2023

Approval for the installation of an automatic irrigation system at the club is agreed by Watford Borough Council, subject to formal planning permission. The agreed project includes digging a borehole and the installation of above-ground storage tanks if these are also required, though the latter will depend on the water supply available from the borehole.

December 2023

An application for planning permission is submitted, and published by the Council.

Some local residents make a formal objection to the proposal on the grounds that the pop-up sprinklers will make too much noise. The proposal therefore requires a full Council planning meeting for consideration.

Tuesday 6th February 2024

The objectors and the club each have an opportunity to make representations about the project at a Council planning meeting. The club points out that years ago Council itself installed an automatic irrigation system at the bowls club nearby in the park, with sprinklers used routinely at 4am, and there have never been any complaints about the noise.

The Councillors agree at the meeting that our project can go ahead, but subject to the restriction that the sprinklers may not be used between 11pm and 7am.

Thursday 8th February 2024

The written planning approval is received from the planners with a couple of stipulations: that the work cannot start until there is also a Tree Protection Plan, and that there is adequate noise installation for the borehole pump.

February 2024

A Tree Protection Plan is developed and discussed with the planners, and evidence is collected to demonstrate that the borehole pump will be completely inaudible in use, but approval requires submission of a further formal Discharge of Conditions planning application.

Monday 15th April 2024

Acceptance of the Discharge of Conditions planning application is received, and work can finally proceed.

Thursday 30th May 2024

Work on drilling the borehole starts.



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Monday 3rd - Friday 7th June 2024

The going is quite slow at first through a layer of gravel below the top metre of soil, but the expected chalk strata is reached after about 9m and then progress is much more rapid. The water-table is reached at a depth of 14m, consistent with the 15 to 20m predicted in the hydrogeological survey. The plan is to drill about 30m below the water-table.

Monday 10th - Tuesday 11th June 2024

Drilling continues with quite rapid progress through the chalk. The area around the borehole turns white with chalk slurry!

Wednesday 12th June 2024

Drilling is completed and a 5" diameter perforated plastic pipe is inserted into the borehole.

Thursday 13th June 2024

The drilling rig is removed and the manhole pit is prepared.

Friday 14th June 2024

The borehole supply is tested. After an hour of pumping at around 3m3/hour the water-table dropped only 60cm - a healthy supply. It started very chalky but became steadily clearer over time, which is quite normal.

The next stage is to finalise the details of the irrigation system design to suit the new water supply, and specifically the flow rates and pressures, so that an appropriate model of borehole pump can be selected and installed.