Hydro Nation: annual report 2022

Records the development of Scotland's Hydro Nation policy agenda and reports on progress since the publication of the eighth annual report in 2022.

Developing Scotland's Water Economy

Introduction by Mairi McAllan MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition

I am very pleased to be able to introduce the ninth annual Hydro Nation report to the Scottish Parliament, highlighting Scotland's progress as a Hydro Nation. 2022 has seen our continued recovery from the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic but many challenges remain as we seek to build back better. Capital inflation and the cost of living crisis have had significant impacts right across society, and the water sector is not immune. However, it is clear to me that our water sector is incredibly resilient and there are many excellent examples in this report of how it has successfully adapted its practices to help keep customers and communities safe while offering excellent service.

In my introduction to last year's Report, I highlighted the role of the Hydro Nation Forum in reviewing the Hydro Nation agenda to help ensure it remains relevant. After a period of unprecedented turbulence during which the Forum has been on a hiatus we are now better placed to progress the review and will report on the outcomes in due course.

Having mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic I want to once again highlight the excellent collaborative work that has been done by a wide range of partners including Scottish Water, SEPA, the University of Edinburgh, Public Health Scotland, the James Hutton Institute and CREW – the Centre of Expertise for Waters. Their important work on wastewater monitoring has provided key information about the prevalence of the virus in our communities and has helped grow our understanding about how the monitoring techniques developed can help protect us now and in the future.

Since the pandemic we have seen an increased focus on sewage pollution in rivers across the UK. While Scotland has a solid track record of environmental improvement, which has delivered excellent results including 66% of Scotland's water bodies in good ecological condition or better, we are not complacent. In December 2022, Scottish Water published their first annual update on their Improving Urban Waters Routemap - backed by half a billion pounds worth of investment - which sets out the progress being made to develop solutions for high priority unsatisfactory Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) due to their impact on water quality or sewage-related debris. This Report contains further detail including on how Scottish Water is developing smart networks using the most up to date monitoring technology to make further significant improvements.

Climate change remains our biggest threat, with impacts ranging from water scarcity during prolonged dry weather, to severe storms overwhelming our sewage systems and flooding households and businesses. This report provides examples of how Scotland is working hard to mitigate the impacts.

Internationally too, Hydro Nation partners continue to deliver important work, perhaps most notably in Malawi where the tragedy of Storm Freddy caused such devastation earlier this year, highlighting the importance of our work with Government of Malawi colleagues to establish and grow capability in water and environmental regulation.

Finally, I offer my thanks to everyone involved in delivering the activities which are supporting our Hydro Nation agenda and I look forward to continuing to work together to promote and further grow our water economy.


Email: waterindustry@gov.scot

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