£7.5M Investment to Improve the Water of Leith Environment

10 February 2020
Water of Leith

Water of Leith

Scottish Water is investing £7.5M to help improve the environment in and around the Water of Leith

An investment of £7.5 million pound across a number of projects to improve the environment and quality of the Water of Leith will start in the next month.

Scottish Water will install new and improved wastewater infrastructure to help prevent items which are wrongly flushed down the toilet – which include wipes, sanitary products and cotton wool - from overflowing into the river during severe storm events. 

The project involves upgrading 14 existing underground Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) chambers with new screens and all associated chambers, pipework and manholes. These are situated at various sites along the Water of Leith from the Balerno area to the North of Edinburgh near the Gyle.

A CSO is a chamber which acts as a relief point which discharges from the sewer network at times of heavy rainfall when the system can be overwhelmed with rainwater, these relief points are required to prevent flooding of the network.  

The first phase of this project will see work begin on February 24th at Kingsknowe CSO, located near Colinton Dells and two other sites by the river within Juniper Green off Baberton Loan.

For the Kingsknowe CSO a site compound will be situated at the Spylaw car park at the entrance to Colinton Tunnel / Dells. The car park will be closed between Monday to Friday but will reopen every Saturday and Sunday.

To enable the safe delivery of materials to the construction area there will be a convoy system in place along a 1km stretch of the Water of Leith walkway from the entrance at Spylaw car park to the construction site northwards at Colinton Dell. This will operate for approximately 7 months and will predominantly be in operation during weekdays. A temporary footpath will be provided for pedestrians and cyclists to maintain access within the Colinton Dells area. 

Scott Fraser, Corporate Affairs Manager at Scottish Water, said: “The Water of Leith,
Edinburgh’s hidden natural asset, is a vital watercourse and this work is being carried out to improve the water quality and environment in the area. 

“We know the area where this work is being carried out is hugely popular with many people including walkers, runners and cyclists. There will be some disruption during this work and local diversions will be in place at times. We ask people to take extra care while we are carrying out this essential work. We will do all we can to keep any disruption to a minimum.”

The project is being delivered by Scottish Water’s alliance partner amey Black and Veatch (aBV).Jeff Windross, aBV communication manager, said: “We have had good initial meetings with community groups in the area and will continue working with them to keep the community up to date with progress of the project.”

Section of the Colinton Tunnel Mural

Section of the Colinton Tunnel Mural

aBV are working closely with the project team to ensure that work on the mural is not disrupted

Scottish Water will work alongside the project team completing the ongoing underground Colinton Tunnel mural – the biggest outdoor mural in Scotland – to ensure the water improvement work does not impact their work.

The Water of Leith flows for 24 miles, from its source in the Pentland Hills to its outflow in the Firth of Forth at Leith. It is home to a range of plants and animals, many of which can be seen on the Water of Leith Walkway which stretches for just over 12 miles.

Helen Brown of the Water of Leith Conservation Trust welcomed this investment by Scottish Water. She said: “We are happy to see this investment and upgrading works taking place along the river, people often do not make the connection between what they flush and the potential impact it can have on the sewer network and ultimately their river should there be a blockage or failure in the system. Hopefully this work will mean we find less sewer waste in the river on our clean-ups and better overall water quality.”

An information event on the work to be carried out by Scottish Water will be held in Colinton Library on February 17 between 4pm and 7pm. Members of the public can meet the project team and view full plans for the work.