Asset base

"Asset base" is a term to describe everything that makes up Scottish Water’s physical structures, for example pipes, waste water treatment works, pumping stations. We estimate the cost of replacing our asset base would be in the region of £70bn. This represents the calculated value of our asset stock as reported to our economic regulator.

Blue-green infrastructure

Blue-green infrastructures are an important tool for managing storm water and reducing the amount of rainwater entering our sewers, by reintroducing a natural water cycle into towns and cities. Blue refers to water (pools, ponds, water courses, artificial basins etc.) and green refers to green landscape elements such as hedgerows, trees, bushes, orchards, woodlands, swales and ecological parks. Linking blue and green elements together, through land planning and engineering design, allows more rainwater to be naturally absorbed into the ground rather than entering the sewer system.

Capital programme

This is the investment activities we undertake, it includes construction work such as laying pipes and building and upgrading treatment assets.

Catchment management

Catchment management can be explained as prevention rather than cure - it refers to preventing pollution (such as agricultural pesticides) from getting into our water sources, rather than removing the pollution from the water at our treatment works. It is the most sustainable way to protect our water resources and is also beneficial to the environment.

Circular economy

A circular economy is described by Zero Waste Scotland as “Businesses, industry and consumers working together to make things last". In a circular economy, everything has value and nothing is wasted; things are re-made and re-used rather than disposed of.

Civil contingency partners

Our civil contingency partners are organisations that would help us deal with any major incident. These would include organisations such as Local Authorities, Police Authorities, Scottish Ambulance Service, etc.

Improvement priorities

We undertook extensive preparatory research in order to find the best way to gather customers’ views. Based on this research, we developed a new ‘impact’ based visual survey, to enable customers to easily understand the different aspects of the service we provide, and how these impact on them and their daily lives. We used this research to develop improvement priorities, which will help to inform our business plan.

Ecological footprint

The ecological footprint measures human demand on nature. It is defined as the biologically productive area needed to provide for everything people use.

Hydraulic modelling

A hydraulic model is a mathematical model of a sewer system which is used to analyse how the system behaves.

Integrated catchment studies

Integrated catchment studies involve Scottish Water, SEPA and local authorities working together to address the problem of surface water flooding. These studies use modelling to assess the relationship between rainwater flooding, sewer catchment, rivers and tidal waters. The results of these studies are used to inform how that area will manage its surface water in future.

Lean management

Lean management is a management method that aims to improve the performance of an organisation by developing all of its employees. It aims to create better value for customers, using fewer resources.

Natural capital

Natural capital can be defined as the world’s stocks of natural assets which include geology, soil, air, water and all living things.

Revenue base

An organisation’s revenue base is the source of the major and regular part of its income.


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental economic organisation with 35 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

Organic matter

The organic matter in soil comes from plants and animals. Peaty soils have a high concentration of organic matter.

Social capital

The links, shared values and understandings in society that enable individuals and groups to trust each other and work together.

Social sustainability

This is about identifying and managing our impact, both positive and negative, on people.

Source control

In this context source control is used to stop pollutants or contaminants from entering the environment by preventing the release or disposal of chemicals, rather than removing the substances from waste water or the environment at a later stage. This could include working with customers to discourage inappropriate disposal of products into the sewer system.

Surface water

Water that flows or collects above the surface of the ground, this can originate from groundwater, small urban water courses, rainfall or sewers.

Storm water

Water that originates during precipitation events. Storm water can soak into the soil, be held on the surface and evaporate, or run off and end up in nearby streams, rivers, sewers or other water bodies.