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Scottish Water fined for drinking water offence

Scottish Water was fined £3250 at Hamilton Sheriff Court today for an incident which resulted in thousands of homes in North Lanarkshire being supplied with drinking water unfit for human consumption.

Engineers were carrying out a planned repair near Carlisle Road in Mull, Airdrie on June 17 during which they attempted to isolate a water main. The absence of effective controls led to faulty valves not being detected.

The faulty valves caused a drop in pressure and resulted in contaminated water being siphoned back into the water system.

Six thousand and eighty five properties were affected in the Bellshill, New Stevenson, Holytown, Carfin, Newarthill, Newhouse and Chapelhall areas of North Lanarkshire.

Scottish Water received thousands of calls from consumers reporting an unusual taste or odour to the water.

Restrictions were put in place and alternative water supplies were made available to consumers via tankers and bottled water.

Analysis of water samples revealed higher concentrations of hydrocarbons, iron and manganese than is acceptable.

Flushing of the distribution network followed and by 19 June, hydrocarbon concentrations had reduced to acceptable levels and all restrictions were lifted.

Nine schools and many businesses were forced to close on 18 and 19 June, causing disruption.

Sara Shaw, Procurator Fiscal, Wildlife and Environment said:

"The failings on the part of Scottish Water to ensure employees complied with controls over planned work gave rise to this incident and prompted a number of complaints and caused a great deal of public concern and disruption.

"It was a situation that was entirely avoidable had Scottish Water had in place proper systems to ensure compliance with policies and procedures and carried out the necessary checks on the system prior to undertaking the work.

"Those failures had a significant impact on the local community although Scottish Water did provide a swift effective response to the situation."