Local Information - Water (updated 19.1.08)
Hartley receives its drinking water from South East Water Company, but our sewerage is the responsibility of Southern Water. South East Water and Mid Kent Water merged in December 2007.
With the continual development that has occurred in Hartley since the first world war, there is pressure on water supplies. This has been recognised by the Environment Agency ("Identifying areas of water stress", Jan 2007), which identifies the Mid-Kent water area as one where water stress is 'serious'. However their proposed solution is not to reduce development, but to impose water metering.
At present many properties are metered, but probably the majority still pay by water rates. A survey of water meter coverage in selected roads is set out below:
Figures based on number of water meter covers on pavement at property edge. Usually the water meter covers are clearly visible so those not apparent were counted as water rate properties.
Before Mains Water
Hartley Manor - "deep well
under cover in front of the house, and exceptionally large rain-water
storage"; pump and well with hose (in case of fire). Force-pump
for supplying soft water from tanks in one of the kitchens.
In the December 1931 Parish Magazine, Rev Bancks wrote:
"But there was a time when the houses at the upper end of the village were dependent upon a well at the back of the Court. The water was drawn by a horse, fastened to a pole, one bucket going down as the other came up. Near by was a large stone cistern. This was filled up once a day, and people came with yokes and pails and carried it to their houses. All the wells in the parish, I think, except the one at .the Retory, are now out of action."
The Mid Kent Water Order 1901 empowered the company to lay mains to Hartley and the neighbouring parishes. The parish meeting of January 1901 opposed mains water, but it appears this decision was reversed two months later and water arrived the following year. Originally it only went as far as Mintmakers, Church Road, but was extended to the remainder in 1913.
In 1907 the fact of mains water was a selling point for the Payne and Trapps Estate at Wellfield. It is uncertain where the water came from at this time. In 1925 the parish protested about the high charges of the water company (PRO HLG 50/1015); this was followed up by a complaint by Dartford Rural District Council in 1932. The charges were reduced in 1933.
According to parish council records the mains were relaid in Hoselands Hill in 1982 and in Church Road/Manor Drive in 1990.
Hartley Pumping Station
A 354 feet deep well, 4 boreholes (and joining adits 2,566 feet long) were sunk into the Chalk in 1938, this was capable of pumping a minimum 1,000,000 gallons per day, tests in 1938 and 1944 found the capacity was 2¼ mgd. The surface catchment area for the station is some 6½ - 7 square miles.
The pumping station came on line in April 1944, but plans to lay a 12" main to the Exedown reservoir were scrapped, instead 1,000 yards of 4" main were quickly laid to Ash. Local power shortages meant that initially it could only pump 0.88 million gallons per day (0.19 mgd to Mid Kent area, and 0.69 mgd to Gravesend).
In 1949 the Minister of Health gave permission to deepen one of the boreholes from 475 feet to 750 feet to tap the underlying Greensand. The station had 4 pumps capable of pumping 22,000 - 47,000 gallons per hour each.
Because of difficulty in recruitment the company decided to build the Cottage in Hartley Bottom Road in 1946.
A routine analysis of the water in 1967 found the water was "clear and bright", which may come as a surprise to those of us who remember the snowstorm in a glass of water of those days. For a chalk area it was unsurprisingly alkaline (pH 7.2). The main trace solids being Calcium (248 parts per million), Magnesium (12 ppm), Silica (14 ppm). Then the water was very slightly chlorinated. (Refs: PRO HLG 127/464, HLG 23/27531, Mid Kent Water Website)
The Hartley Water Committee was abolished in 1973, by section 33 of the Water Act 1973.
The threat of disease from untreated sewage was a great concern, particularly in the 1890s when there were a number of diptheria outbreaks, including Hartley in 1898. In 1895 the Dartford Rural District Council decided to start removing refuse and emptying cesspools, charging the cost to the rates. It appears this measure to improve public health was bitterly opposed by Hartley and Longfield, Mr Barnes wrote to the Local Government Board to complain on behalf of the parish meeting. He said it was "one of the most scandalous that has ever been made". He argued that it would only benefit the urban areas, and wasn't needed in Hartley with its large gardens. Longfield parish submitted a 27 signature petition. However Hartley had relented by 1897.
From 1936 to 1942 responsibility for emptying cesspools and collecting rubbish was undertaken by the Ash and District Joint Sanitary Committee. The Rural District Council took over in 1942.
Mains sewerage was laid onto to Ash Road in 1960, and Church Road followed in 1963 after some problems with the bankruptcy of the contractors. There are still some properties on cesspool drainage, most notably the Manor Field Pavilion.
Overflowing sewers have caused problems on occasion, particularly in Church Road, where problems have occurred in 1975, 1985, 1993 and 1999.
 L Dudley-Stamp (ed) - "The Land of Britain - Kent" (p 601)