Over many years, Scotland’s water supply systems have evolved from local town supplies to regional systems.
The resilience of these supply systems has historically been considered less important than improving water quality and availability. However, interruptions to supply have a significant impact on all our customers, and our business customers tell us it is their biggest concern.
In order to deliver high quality, great tasting water to customers every minute of the day, we now need to further improve the reliability and resilience of our water supply systems.
To meet future demand for water, we need to get the right balance between managing our water resources, managing storage, reducing leakage and working with our customers to use water more efficiently.
We currently have the lowest carbon water supply in the UK, but there is more we can do to further reduce waste and our impact on the environment. We will look for innovative solutions to reduce leaks from our pipes and the costs associated with addressing them. We will use the findings of our water efficiency trials to inform customers and encourage them to use water wisely, and reduce their long term water consumption.
By 2021, improved system connectivity will mean that one third of our customers can be supplied by more than one water supply system (see diagram opposite). The majority of our customers will therefore continue to be vulnerable to extended supply interruptions in the event of a major asset or system failure.
Our long term resilience strategy is therefore to drive up the number of customers with access to more than one supply system by increasing the connectivity of our water supply systems and the raw water resources and treatment capacity.
Improved connectivity will provide resilience against problems such as loss of power, drought, pollution, malicious attack (physical and cyber), or an asset failure. It will also allow us to support housing development and business growth, and further examine the opportunities for asset rationalisation.
The ongoing development of intelligent networks and real-time monitoring of flow and pressure will allow us to identify asset failures more quickly. We will continue to train our operational teams, work with civil contingency partners and improve our response plans so we can respond and resolve incidents as quickly as possible. This is particularly important in rural or island communities where improving connectivity may not be achievable. In these areas we will rely increasingly on tankering to provide adequate resilience by pumping water into our networks when supply would otherwise be interrupted.
Building a fully resilient water supply system will take many decades to achieve. In the meantime, we will seek to reduce the impact of asset failures or drought on our services to customers by further improving our response and recovery capability. In the unlikely event of a large scale or extended duration event, we would work with civil contingency partners to manage the consequences of a major incident (e.g. an extended disruption to the water supply of a major town or city).