Chlorine fears persist at Wester Ross water plant

BY MICHAEL RUSSELL
michael.russell@whfp.co.uk

Scottish Water’s new treatment plant serving the Gairloch and Poolewe area in Wester Ross is still using chlorine to disinfect supplies because a “contractual issue” has meant that a safer alternative cannot be used.

The facility was built last year at a cost of £10 million because water supplies in the area recorded high levels of a group of cancer-causing chemicals known as trihalomethanes. The chemicals are produced when chlorine reacts with organic matter in the water and the utility had promised to use another method — chloramination — to solve the problem.

However, according to Don Nicolson, vice-chairman of Wester Loch Ewe Community Council, chloramination is still not being used seven months after the Loch Maree plant was activated because the company that supplied the chloramination technology has gone bust.

A similar facility serving the Shieldaig area was also built last year for the same reasons and it too is still using chlorine to disinfect water supplies.

A spokeswoman for Scottish Water initially said the utility was “in the process of testing that the chloramination equipment installed at Loch Maree Water Treatment Works is operating to a standard that we are happy with” but that it would not be operational next month. Local residents were told in March that the technology would be switched on in December.

When asked about the rumours concerning the firm that supplied the technology, the spokeswoman said: “Chloramination has not been switched on and the plant continues to operate with chlorine disinfection. The water supply fully meets the required water quality standards, ensuring the water supplied to our customers is safe to drink.

“The December switchover has been delayed while we resolve contractual issues that affect the ability of the water treatment works to move to a chloraminated supply. We have informed customers of the delay by letter and will continue to keep in touch with our customers to formally advise them of the introduction of chloraminated water.”