Hydro Nation: annual report 2021

Records the development of Scotland's Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the seventh annual report in 2020.

Annex D - Summary of improvements delivered in 2015-2021


Scotland's communities continue to enjoy the benefits of an ambitious investment programme by Scottish Water. Over the last six years drinking water quality and levels of service to customers have reached their highest levels ever, and many improvements have been made to reduce the impact of Scottish Water's activities on the environment despite increasingly challenging weather conditions. This investment period has brought further unexpected challenges as the industry has reacted and adapted to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish Water is Scotland's national provider of public water and sewerage services. Customers have seen marked improvements in services since Scottish Water's creation in 2002. Improvements continue to be made such that customers now receive levels of service that are comparable to the leading water companies in England and Wales – all whilst the average household charge is little more than £1 per day.

The improvements Scottish Water is required to make are specified by Scottish Ministers and set out in Directions. This report summarises Scottish Water's progress in delivering the improvements that were required during the 2015-21 period and shows how these have contributed to the Government's purpose and Strategic Objectives.

Monitoring progress

Scottish Water's progress in delivering the improvements is monitored and reported on by the 'Delivery Assurance Group' [fn]. The group brings together key water industry stakeholders.

Scottish Water's investment programme for 2015-21 comprised more than 3,700 projects associated with delivering improvements to drinking water quality, environmental performance and customer service, and providing additional capacity to service new developments. 86 projects remain to be completed at March 2021 and 22 of these, while not fully complete, are already providing benefits to customers.

Scottish Water has invested £2 billion during the 2015-21 period in maintaining its assets to support the achievement of its targets and maintain a high quality service to customers. Highlights of Scottish Water's progress are detailed below.

Scottish Water Customer Satisfaction increased from 92% in 2015 to 94.08% in 2021 showing its determined focus to listen to its customers.


Scottish Water has continued to reduce the level of leakage during the 2015-21 period, from 544 to 463 megalitres per day. Lower levels of leakage are beneficial as it reduces the volume of water extracted from the environment and treated, reduces costs and increases the reliability of water supplies to customers.

Leakage has reduced by a further 15% during 2015-21 – enough to supply over 200,000 households every day.

New Strategic Capacity

At the end of the period, Scottish Water confirmed that it had provided additional water and waste water capacity for nearly 50,000 customers through over 140,000 new connections, meeting the Ministerial requirement for the 2015-21 period.

Drinking water quality

During the 2015-21 period, improvements were made to drinking water assets in order to protect or improve the quality of drinking water provided at customers' taps.

Overall Scottish Water delivered improvements to the quality and reliability of water treatment works serving over 2.5 million customers.

Drinking water quality compliance was 99.946% at March 2021.

Environmental protection

During the 2015-21 period improvements were made to waste water assets in order to protect or improve the environment and to comply with a number of European Directives.

23 waste water treatment works were improved either to comply with existing licence requirements or to meet new and more stringent requirements and a total of 129 unsatisfactory intermittent discharges (mainly storm overflows from the sewer network) were improved.

The Ministerial Target for environmental pollution incidents was at most 330 annually and Scottish Water outperformed in all 6 years

Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Scottish Water's operational emissions at the end of the 2015-21 period were around 50% lower than the 2007 baseline year.

In 2020-21, despite the extremes in weather, Scottish Water generated a total of 40GWh of on-site, self-generated renewables using a portfolio of wind, hydro and solar schemes. In addition to renewable energy, Scottish Water's PFI partners generated an extra 32GWh from biogases produced by waste water treatment processes.

Scottish Water is one of the country's biggest

electricity users and one of the three largest

construction sector investors. Their industry-leading Net Zero Emissions Routemap commits them to become net zero by 2040 and then go beyond.

Across the period, Scottish Water’s carbon foot print reduced from 125kg/household to 73kg/household.

Scottish Water selfgenerates over 30GWh of renewable energy from hydro schemes.

Delivering Greater Innovation

Working in partnership with Stirling Council, with additional funding from the Scottish Government, Scottish Water Horizons delivered a low carbon energy centre at Stirling WwTW.


Weather conditions are increasingly challenging in Scotland with more intense storm conditions being experienced more often. Scottish Water has completed a number of projects

to help protect customers from the risk of flooding including construction of the Shieldhall Tunnel.

Scottish Water has also refined its Storm Water Management Strategy, which can be summarised as: "no more surface water in, and what's in out."

The 100m Shieldhall Tunnel took 2 years to construct and is 3.1 miles long – it is the biggest wastewater tunnel to ever be built in Scotland.



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