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Protecting and enhancing the environment At a glance

Scottish Water’s environmental performance has been transformed over the last decade. But there is further work we must do to protect and enhance the environment, meet legislative requirements and achieve further reductions in flooding and pollution from sewers. Our customers have told us to target investment in areas where we can achieve the biggest environmental benefit. Our strategy to prevent flooding from sewers: If climate change results in even more wet weather, building bigger sewers would help deal with increased rainfall. However, we will explore more sustainable and lower cost ways of managing rainwater from roofs, roads and car parks, where feasible. We will work with customers and promote the best ways of disposing of household and business waste such as nappies, wipes and used fats and oils to reduce the extent of flooding from sewers. Our strategy to protect and enhance the environment: We will operate and maintain our waste water treatment works to reduce the likelihood of pollution and protect the natural environment. We will play our part in tackling climate change by acting to reduce our carbon emissions. We will encourage farmers and landowners to play their part in preventing pollution in the water environment. We will reduce leaks from our pipes and encourage recycling of water to reduce demand on supplies stored in lochs and reservoirs. We will look for ways to operate our treatment works and networks in greater harmony with the environment. We will seek to influence others to remove chemicals and substances that find their way into waste water to avoid expensive treatment.

Scottish Water

Over 80% of flooding from sewers is caused by inappropriate items being disposed of in toilets and drains. Encouraging customers to properly dispose of waste items will help prevent flooding of other customers’ properties and improve the environment.


Introduction Chief Executive’s statement

Providing continuous high quality drinking water

Protecting and enhancing the environment

Supporting Scotland’s economy and communities

Investing in future water services

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About Scottish Water What might the future bring? Listening to our customers Our strategy

We rely on the natural environment by using its resources to provide your drinking water. Environmental performance has been transformed over the past 15 years through investment of over £1 billion in waste water treatment and collection. Our discharges are no longer the principal environmental pressure on Scotland’s waters. There remains significant work for us to further protect and enhance the environment. We need to reduce the instances of flooding and pollution caused by discharges from our sewers, meet the further environmental obligations set out in legislation, and find ways to further reduce the carbon footprint of our services.

Preventing flooding and pollution from our sewers Sewers are the main way of taking storm water from roads and pavements and waste water away from homes and business premises. Our sewer capacity is more and more under pressure because of increased rainfall, growth of our towns and cities and blockages caused by inappropriate items being flushed down toilets or put in drains. We are starting to reduce the volume of surface water entering our sewers from new developments through the use of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) where the excess surface water is returned locally to the natural environment. While building bigger sewers may be part of the answer, we need to find more sustainable ways of managing surface water to deliver services to our customers at the lowest possible cost and minimise our carbon emissions.

Improving Scotland’s water environment We rely on a healthy water environment in providing water services. We must be responsible and control the amount of water we take from natural sources in the environment to protect the future sustainability of our water resources. Historically, major environmental legislation such as the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive set the required standards for waste water discharges to the water environment. We are moving towards a more sophisticated approach to environmental protection, where increasingly we are only part of the solution. Providing sustainable environmental protection and improvement will require us to work more closely with others to meet the challenge as set out in the River Basin Management Plans.

Our strategy We aspire to continue to improve the environment in Scotland by: • Improving waste water network management and controls; • Being responsible in the way we use Scotland’s water resources; • Using our knowledge and expertise to champion a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach to protect the environment in a sustainable manner; • Delivering full compliance with environmental responsibilities and obligations in the operation and maintenance of our assets; and • Investing where appropriate to protect and enhance the natural environment in Scotland.

Strategic Projections


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Network management and control We have made great progress in the past 10 years to deliver improved performance and we are working to introduce intelligent control and monitoring systems across our asset base linked to a central control system. This will allow us to proactively monitor the performance trends of our assets and networks and help us to take action or carry out repairs before there is any impact on services to our customers or the environment. We have developed weather monitoring systems and other tools that give us early warning about rainfall that may be about to fall on our catchment areas across Scotland and how it may impact on our networks and customers. Our modelling of sewer flows allows us to identify places where our sewers may become overloaded due to the effects of climate change or new development in towns and cities across Scotland. This modelling allows us to consider areas where we should attempt to reduce surface water flows getting into the sewer network or invest to increase the capacity of our sewers. We are developing integrated drainage plans for all major cities in Scotland, working with key stakeholders to allow us to understand the interaction between surface waters, burns and our sewers. This allows us to identify the most sustainable way of controlling the impacts on the built and natural environment, and managing the flooding that can arise from severe rainfall in partnership with other organisations. We are developing models to allow us to identify and clean sewers to reduce blockages and flooding to customers’ properties or pollution of the water environment.

Responsible use of resources Water, waste water and the sludge produced in the treatment of these are resources that need to be managed effectively and efficiently on behalf of our customers to deliver greater value for money. In doing this, we aim to safeguard our water resources, minimise our need for chemicals and energy, recycle or recover value from our waste (such as heat extraction, mineral recovery) and minimise residual waste. We will seek opportunities to recycle water both strategically (surface water management and reuse) and locally (water butts in homes and business premises) to reduce the demand on Scotland’s freshwater resources. We are also piloting a range of water efficiency measures that may help our customers to use water more wisely. We will encourage housing associations and other large scale landlords to consider water efficient and water recycling measures when they are refurbishing their housing stock. We will also seek to influence building standards for new homes and extensions to ensure there is an increasing focus on water efficiency. We are also considering the incentives that may be appropriate to encourage customers to adopt water efficient measures. We continue to work with industry partners to identify more efficient ways to prevent, detect and repair leaking underground pipes. Recent innovations to detect leaks in our pipe networks have reduced our costs of leak detection and repair. Trials of platelet technology (a way of locating and sealing leaks in pipes without digging them up) may, if successful allow us to efficiently reduce water losses and the costs of supplying treated water. We also expect activities such as sustainable land management, surface water management and variable consenting of waste water discharges – giving us flexibility to meet our obligations – can further help to reduce our costs.

Scottish Water


Introduction Chief Executive’s statement

Providing continuous high quality drinking water

Protecting and enhancing the environment

Supporting Scotland’s economy and communities

Investing in future water services

33

About Scottish Water What might the future bring? Listening to our customers Our strategy

Prevention rather than cure More than 80% of flooding incidents are due to blockages which have been caused by inappropriate items such as nappies and wipes being flushed down toilets, or cooking fats, oils and grease being poured down sinks or drains. Helping our customers understand the proper ways to dispose of these items is essential to helping reduce flooding. We will empower our customers, and future generations through our engagement programme, to properly dispose of these items in their household waste to avoid causing flooding within their community. The Water Resources (Scotland) Act makes it an offence to put fat, oil or grease into the public waste water network from business premises. This should help to encourage good behaviour from business customers and reduce property flooding. Building bigger sewers will only be part of the solution to deal with the challenge of increased surface water run-off arising from climate change and the growth of communities. We also need to change how we manage surface water run-off, and reduce the amount entering the sewer network; otherwise the problem will continue to grow. We will therefore work with all relevant stakeholders in Scotland to look at how we create sustainable urban drainage systems, including permeable roads (which better absorb water), improved land drainage, surface water retention and reuse for flushing toilets, washing cars and watering the garden. We intend to pilot surface water management techniques to understand the practicality of implementing these; their effectiveness, costs and benefits to customers and the environment. These approaches provide opportunities to reduce the risk of flooding and uncontrolled waste water discharges to the environment as well as reducing our pumping costs, electricity demand and carbon emissions.

Maintaining compliance Maintaining our assets to prevent pollution in rivers and burns is a critical element of our environmental compliance strategy. We are forecasting an increasing demand for asset maintenance for the new and upgraded treatment works we have built over the past 15 years. We are working on innovative pilots in the regulation and operation of waste water treatment. If these pilots are successful, they may provide opportunities to reduce our overall waste water treatment costs and carbon emissions, while operating in greater harmony with the environment. 2009-2012 sewer flooding incidents Hydraulic overloading Customers’ debris

Asset failure

4% 7%

23%

Tree roots Customers’ fat, oils, and grease

4% 14%

48% Customers’ sanitary products

Strategic Projections


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Investing to enhance our environment In some instances we will need to invest in additional operations or assets to protect and enhance the environment. Our future investment to protect and enhance the environment is driven by our current understanding of the legislative requirements facing Scottish Water. Before we invest, we will demonstrate that improving our assets is the most sustainable way of achieving the desired environmental outcomes for Scotland. Our investment projections assume that sustainable land management will achieve significant improvements to the quality of Scotland’s rivers and burns, and protect our raw water sources by reducing the risk of contamination from pesticides and diffuse pollution. We also assume that environmental objectives can be met by reducing the level of harmful chemicals that are found in waste water by encouraging industrial manufacturers to remove these from the source household products and medicines. Along with these innovative approaches we will still require to invest to enhance the quality of the waste water discharges from our assets to help to continue to improve Scotland’s environment and meet our legislative obligations.

There are some significant exclusions from our investment projections in relation to environmental obligations as listed below. • We assume that the Priority Substances Directive can be met mainly through removal of the substances at source (e.g. changing the chemicals used in certain household cleaning and pharmaceutical products). However, if it is established that the overall benefit to society is greater by continuing with certain pharmaceutical products because there is no substitute that causes less harm to the environment, we may need to install new treatment processes to remove these substances from waste water. If this were the case then we may require to invest up to £1.8 billion in additional waste water treatment processes. • If new bathing waters are designated at locations where there are existing waste water discharges we may need to invest in additional waste water treatment or move discharges away. • Historically we have stored sludge arising from drinking water treatment processes in lagoons near water treatment works sites, and we monitor these to ensure that they are not causing environmental harm to nearby rivers and burns. If this was to change we may require to remove all the sludge and dispose of this elsewhere (which could cost up to £170 million). • The introduction of new hygiene standards for shellfish would result in a need for further enhanced waste water treatment to waste water discharges at or near designated shellfish waters (which could cost up to £360 million). • Lower frequency spill standards for intermittent discharges from the waste water network could be introduced by the EU, requiring significant changes to our sewer networks (which could cost up to £14 billion). We continue to work with SEPA and the Scottish Government to minimise the impact of these on future investment priorities and customers’ bills, ensuring that there is robust evidence and proactive challenge to the issue and a sustainable, proportionate and affordable solution going forward.

Scottish Water



Protecting and enhancing the environment