‘Monster’ project complete as new water treatment works opens at Loch Ness

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

Local MSP Kate Forbes was joined by members of the communities of Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston, alongside Scottish Water and its main supply chain partners, to celebrate the completion of the ‘monster’ project last Friday.

The ‘state-of-the-art’ single water treatment works was built to replace two smaller facilities, with the new plant using nanofiltration membranes to produce up to one million litres of ‘world class’ drinking water each day.

Scottish Water’s capital investment delivery partner, ESD, delivered the new facility alongside Ross-shire Engineering. The project included a ‘challenging’ two-part operation to tunnel beneath the Caledonian Canal and drill beneath the River Oich in order to provide a secure connection from one side of Fort Augustus to the other side.

Kate Forbes MSP said, “It is a huge pleasure to mark the completion of this impressive investment – an example of twenty-first century engineering, made in the Highlands to serve the future of Highland communities.

“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.”

ESD’s chief operating officer, Wendy Cooper, added, “The scale and complexity of the project to give Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston a single, improved water supply for the future has always been striking.

“Along the way, our team has had to deal with everything from the challenging ground conditions beneath a 200-year-old wonder of water engineering to a global pandemic.

“The common factor in every stage and every challenge has been the strength of our working relationship with our partners – the local community, landowners and our supply chain. Where we have encountered difficulties, we have been able to work together to find solutions. The outcome is one that everyone who has played a part should feel proud of.”

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 said.

Scottish Water’s general manager for capital investment alliances, Paul Sexton, added, “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.

“We are hugely grateful for the critical role that the local community and a wide range of partners have played in the project’s story. It’s a real pleasure to have been able to bring some of those people together to celebrate its outcome.”