Water treatment infrastructure opens for Loch Ness communities

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes

A new water treatment works at Invermoriston, on the banks of Loch Ness, has been officially opened. 

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch MSP Kate Forbes was joined by members of the communities of Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston together with Scottish Water and its main supply chain partners, to celebrate the completion of the project to transform the area’s water supply.

Spanning the pandemic, a state-of-the-art single water treatment works has been built to replace two smaller WTWs. 

The new plant uses nanofiltration membranes to produce up to one million litres of drinking water every day, drawn from the largest body of freshwater in Scotland.

A much more extensive overhaul of the two Great Glen communities’ drinking water infrastructure has been delivered by Scottish Water’s capital investment delivery partner ESD in recent years, with the new WTW at its heart being supplied by RSE (Ross-shire Engineering).

Kate Forbes MSP, who visited Invermoriston’s new WTW during its original factory assembly at RSE’s Water Technologies Centre in Muir of Ord, said: “The investment that has been made secures a sustainable year-round water supply for rural communities in the Great Glen and their thriving economy. 

“At the same time as making use of the area’s most famous natural asset, the work has been supporting high-quality jobs and exciting training opportunities less than an hour’s drive away in Muir of Ord. 

“The innovative modular construction methods and engineering skills exemplified by this project are of interest not just across Scotland, but beyond.”

The new WTW is supplied by a new intake and pumping station near the site of the old Invermoriston Pier. 

Around 10km of new pumped water mains were laid along the route of the Great Glen Way, connecting new and expanded drinking water storage tanks that serve each community. 

Specialist contractors also completed a challenging two-part operation to tunnel beneath the Caledonian Canal and drill beneath the River Oich to provide a secure connection from one side of Fort Augustus to the other. 

Finally, work was carried out to allow water to reach elevated homes between the village and its old Water Treatment Works near Loch Tarff.  

Before the project’s delivery, drinking water for both Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston had to be regularly supplemented during the summer using road tankers. The water network in Fort Augustus relied upon a single canal crossing that was vulnerable to damage and difficult to repair.

Scottish Water’s general manager for capital investment alliances, Paul Sexton said: “The most important goal of our project is to leave our local team, and the customers we serve, with new infrastructure that will stand the test of time and deliver excellent service for decades to come.

“The draw of Loch Ness is a key factor in the high seasonal demand for water, which was previously a significant challenge for our teams each summer. 

“Loch Ness is now providing a much more sustainable supply to meet the needs of residents, visitors and the wider economy all year round.”

As well as the new major infrastructure bringing clear, fresh drinking water to their own taps, residents and visitors to Fort Augustus will soon be able to make use of a new Scottish Water Top up Tap which is proposed for the village.  

The outdoor tap will add to a growing network of more than 100 refill points across Scotland, including three already along the route of the Great Glen Way at Ness Walk in Inverness, the Loch Ness Hub in Drumnadrochit and Gordon Square in Fort William.

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