Contaminated water costs Scottish Water

8th June 2017

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Pollution & Waste Management ,
  • Control ,
  • Prevention & Control ,
  • Water ,
  • Prosecution


John Fanning

Scottish Water has been fined for supplying water contaminated with hydrocarbons, iron and manganese to more than 6,000 households.

The incident, in June 2015, left residents without water for drinking, cooking or washing, meaning that businesses and schools had to close for more than 24 hours.

An investigation by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQRS) found that the inadvertent shutdown of the water main supplying the area during maintenance resulted in contaminated water being drawn back into the water supply system.

Although some of the contamination arose from a third party industrial source, some was residual contamination left in a length of redundant water main that remained connected to the network, the regulator said.

However, the water was deemed unlikely to cause illness to anyone drinking it, according to health professionals who analysed samples of the water.

Sue Petch at the DWQRS, which bought the case for prosecution, said: ‘This incident caused considerable inconvenience and worry to a large number of consumers in North Lanarkshire.

‘People’s confidence in the safety of the water supply was compromised, and our investigation found deficiencies with Scottish Water’s operational processes. It was for this reason that we took the highly unusual step of reporting the case for prosecution.’

Peter Farrer, chief operating officer of Scottish Water said the company apologised unreservedly for the disruption caused by the incident.

The firm distributed 600,000l of water to households whose supply was contaminated, he said. High quality tap water supply was restored within 24 hours, with drinking water supplies reinstated within a further 12 hours, he added.

‘Our staff worked closely with a wide range of partners in the community, including public health specialists, who assessed the health risk was minimal.

‘We have systematically reviewed operational and management processes and conducted a Scotland-wide assessment of our underground infrastructure. This is to minimise the risk of a repeat of this incident,’ he said.

The firm was prosecuted for supplying water unfit for human consumption under Section 76C of the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 and fined £3,250.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Latest environmental legislation update

Groundbreaking legislation on air and noise pollution and measures to tackle growing concerns over disposable vapes provide the focus for Neil Howe’s environmental legislation update

6th June 2024

Read more

One in five UK food businesses are not prepared for EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) coming into force in December, a new survey has uncovered.

16th May 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Dr Julie Riggs issues a call to arms to tackle a modern-day human tragedy

15th March 2024

Read more

The UK’s new biodiversity net gain (BNG) requirements could create 15,000 hectares of woodlands, heath, grasslands, and wetlands and absorb 650,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

13th March 2024

Read more

Campaign group Wild Justice has accused the UK government of trying to relax pollution rules for housebuilders “through the backdoor”.

14th February 2024

Read more

Digital tracking, packaging data delays and new collections provide a waste focus for this edition’s environmental round-up by legislation expert Neil Howe

28th November 2023

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close