Scottish Water opens new £5m facility following video call commissioning

A new £5 million ‘state of the art’ water treatment works is serving Scottish Water customers in Lairg, after an ‘innovative’ approach to commissioning allowed the new plant to be brought online during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Commissioning would ordinarily require a number of people from the company and its supply chain to be present on site, Scottish Water said. However, in order to get around this while complying to social distancing measures, RSE (Ross-shire Engineering) carried out the necessary tests while members of the Scottish Water team observed via video call and monitored telemetry data.

The facility, at Saavalbeg, was transported to its long term home in 2019 in three large units, after being assembled and tested at RSE’s specialised factory in Muir of Ord. The modular approach to construction was developed with RSE in response to the needs of rural communities, Scottish Water said.

Project manager, Graeme Campbell from Scottish Water’s alliance partner ESD, commented, “This project is vital for securing the future of Lairg’s water supply, so when the Covid-19 restrictions came into place we had to think differently to ensure the plant could be commissioned and start to serve the local population, while also keeping everyone safe. It was great to see how the team from ESD, Scottish Water and RSE came together to ensure that the project, which was already so close to completion, could be carried over the finishing line.”

Scottish Water treatment operator John Anderson added, “While I’ll miss the old plant in a funny way, it had really come to the end of its operational life and this new plant will make things a lot easier for us, while continuing to ensure customers in Lairg receive a reliable supply of clear, fresh and great tasting drinking water for many years to come. Although the final commissioning and training was a little different to normal, it all went very smoothly and I’m really pleased that the new treatment works is now up and running. We are grateful for the local community’s patience, especially in the important final stages over the last few months.”

Daniel Sutherland of RSE added, “It was enormously important to get Lairg’s new state of the art water treatment works into service, but we had to do that in a way that kept our people, Scottish Water’s team and the wider community safe during a very difficult time for everyone. Using live video and real time monitoring of telemetry data to complete final commissioning was a great success.  Everyone who needed to be involved was able to take part, even though the space within the building could not have allowed them to be physically present. It’s an approach we hope to build upon in the months ahead as we continue working with Scottish Water to keep the country’s water flowing.”