Date Published: 10 October 2006

Report into drinking water taste and odour complaints in Scotland

Health News from Scotland

An investigation carried out following complaints about the taste and odour of water in Edinburgh and West Lothian earlier this year has found that, although there was no risk to public health, the incident could have been prevented had appropriate operational procedures and safeguards been in place.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland, Colin McLaren, conducted an inquiry following 1500 complaints from consumers about water quality in July.

He found that the incident was caused by the accidental release of a small amount of "stale" water into the supply at the Marchbank Water Treatment Works in the capital.

He said:

" I am satisfied that public health was not at risk however a considerable number of people were inconvenienced by this incident.

_ I have made a number of recommendations to Scottish Water to ensure that this will not happen again.

_ They include improving procedures and risk assessments to protect water quality during maintenance work at treatment plants, reviewing staff training for operational activities which affect water quality and re-examining internal communications to ensure that information provided to consumers is accurate.

_ I look to Scottish Water to implement these recommendations without delay."


The DWQR's report can be found at

The complaints were received over the period 25 to 27 July from customers in parts of Edinburgh and West Lothian served by Marchbank Water Treatment Works.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR) has investigated the cause of the complaints and the way in which the matter was handled by Scottish Water.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator monitors drinking water quality in Scotland. He operates independently of Ministers. The role was created in 2002 with duties and powers to obtain information, entry and enforcement set out in the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002.

Scottish Water's Marchbank Water Treatment Works supplies water to parts of west and north Edinburgh as well as West Lothian south of the M8, including parts of Livingston.


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