Scottish Executive launches £180 million water improvement programme

Scottish water consumers are to be provided with a more modern and efficient water industry with the launch of the North of Scotland Water Authority’s £180 million Water Quality Improvements Programme, which will provide a better service, cleaner environment and a better quality of life for all, says the Scottish Environment Minister Ross Finnie.

The new programme will involve carrying out work on more than 240 of the Authority’s 300 sources of drinking water over the next five years, and will include new works and the refurbishment of 20 existing water treatment works in order to meet new water quality regulations, resulting in better water quality for 800,000 people. The programme will also replace or refurbish 50 water storage tanks and lay 500km of water main.

During the launch at Assynt Water Treatment Works, near Evanton, Easter Ross, the Minister donned wellies, hard hat and an umbrella to look at crumbling water pipes below the floor of the works which is due to be refurbished under the scheme. The pipes are estimated to leak two and a half gallons of treated water per second and are an example of the type of systems in desperate need of upgrading.

“We are used to hearing about our poor bathing water quality and the state of Scotland’s beaches because of sewage going out to sea with little or no proper treatment,” said the Chairman of the water authority Colin Rennie. “But I think most people will be shocked to hear that drinking water in parts of our area is so poor.”

In many areas drinking water fails to meet regulations, said Rennie. “Under the programme we will be using different solutions to address different problems in different areas from urban locations to remote rural villages,” he explained. “Many rural areas have only ever had a very basic water treatment system, little more than a battery operated chlorine dosing system in an old shed, but in the future many communities will be supplied by brand new treatment works or refurbished plants.”

Ross Finnie also commented on the future of the water industry. “The Executive proposed in February to establish Scottish Water as a single authority responsible for the delivery of public water and sewerage services across Scotland,” said the Minister. “This proposal is now the subject of consultation. Our aim is to ensure that consumers get the best possible service and choice, at the most appropriate cost – and that their health is safeguarded, and their environment protected.”

“A public industry must also be responsive to the communities and regions it serves,” added Finnie. “If we proceed with the single authority, a priority that Ministers will set for its management is the development of a culture of responsiveness at every level of its operations and in every locality.”

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie