Scottish Water teams spent the festive period ensuring the country’s public water network and waste water systems operated smoothly despite the challenges of the winter weather.
Stormy conditions which saw heavy rainfall, damaging winds, ice and snow between December 23 and January 3 – including Storm Gerrit – resulted in significant problems for many especially in the North.
With multiple weather warnings and flood alerts issued by the Met Office and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), services were on high alert for potential disruption.
Water and waste water teams responded to operational issues spanning the country but managed to keep services running for most customers and communities.
Over the festive period, there were 72 road tanker deployments to help maintain water treatment process and supply in areas where disruption was experienced.
A total of 37 fixed and emergency generators were put into action to maintain power, ensuring treatment works could continue to operate.
These were used from sites in the north including Ullapool and Lochinver, locations in Moray, Rosebery in Midlothian and Daer in South Lanarkshire.
A loss of power in Shetland meant sites there had to use back-up power with no impact on customers.
Severe weather in Orkney on December 27 impacted raw water quality at Kirbister, Boardhouse and Sanday.
They used generators to run sites due to power cuts and the condition of raw water was closely monitored, ensuring no impact on final water quality or customer impact.
They also faced challenges at Rawburn Water Treatment Works in the Borders, which supplies communities throughout Berwickshire, on Christmas Eve when all communications were lost due to high winds causing trees to fall and damage telephone lines.
Staffing was maintained on site to ensure there was no interruption to the treatment process.
The two key interruptions to supply came in the Perth area when a pumping station lost power and an uprooted tree damaged a water main.
Waste water operations experienced flooding at about 30 treatment sites throughout the west, south-west and east of the country.
Operators had to wait until flood waters subsided to gain access and begin recovery.
Sewer response teams also saw an increase in demand attending blockages in the network and attended various hot spot areas particularly around December 27-29.
John Griffen, Customer Water Service General Manager, said:
“The weather over the festive period certainly presented us with many challenges but drawing from experience in previous severe weather events, we implemented comprehensive pre-storm planning.
“Despite the severity of Storm Gerrit, feedback from customers has been positive about our response to these challenges.
“The number of contacts from customers about the loss of their normal water supply between December 23 and January 3 was lower than expected.”
Joanne Kay, Waste Water Operations General Manager, said:
“We saw the impact of flooding on a good number of our assets throughout parts of the country and the teams worked to ensure they could get back on site and start recovery as soon as flood waters subsided.
“The rainfall also led to a spike in calls regarding sewers overwhelmed with flood waters, which our teams were able to respond to and minimise disruption to customers.”