Scottish drinking water quality improves

Drinking water in Scotland showed a slight improvement in 2001, where up to 99.3% of samples passed water quality tests, according to the Scottish Executive.

The latest report on the quality of Scotland’s drinking water shows that out of a 148,600 samples taken throughout 2001, 1,147 did not meet standards, compared to 4,490 in 1991; and 152 contained coliforms, compared to 1,627 ten years earlier. Those containing faecal coliforms were down to 32 from 400 in 1991.

The reason behind the success of the three Scottish water authorities over the last decade has been increased investment in water treatment and distribution, together with an improvement in the management and operation of the three authorities. In April this year, the three were combined to form a single water authority for the whole of Scotland (see related story).

However, it’s not entirely jubilation as there are still areas for improvement. One such area is in trihalomethanes (THMs), byproducts of the disinfection process when chlorine reacts with organic matter. In the US, one water company is facing prosecution over a possible link between THMs and miscarriages (see related story). Research in the US has also shown that THMs increase substantially in the bloodstream after a person has taken a shower.

The water authority intends to improve the THM situation by using chlorine only as a short-term solution. Methods of water treatment that do not involve chlorine will be introduced in the future, says the report.

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