Water and Waste Water Services Played Key Role in Pandemic Response

01 September 2021
cover image of annual report

Performance and Prospects

How we performed during 2022/23 and our plans for the future

The challenges of maintaining public water supplies to support health, hygiene and hydration during the year of the pandemic have been highlighted in a new performance report.

Scottish Water’s annual Performance and Prospects report for 2020/21 was published today (Wednesday Sept 1).

Chief Executive Douglas Millican said the pandemic presented unique challenges to the public body responsible for delivering 1.5 billion litres of water daily and treating more than 1 billion litres of waste water, returning it safely to the environment.

Public health and customer experience were prioritised throughout the year in the delivery of core services to maintain supplies and minimise any disruption.
Douglas Millican

Female Scottish Water worker standing in front of wind turbine

“Scotland depends on its public water supply every day. Throughout the pandemic our key workers safely ensured customers had supplies they could rely on for their health, hygiene and hydration”

Douglas Millican
Chief Executive, Scottish Water
Douglas Millican said: “The impacts of the pandemic have been very significant for Scottish Water. Our role in providing people with clean and safe water and waste water services needed for good health and hygiene, means our responsibilities have never been so important.

“I am pleased that our performance throughout the year was strong despite experiencing some of our toughest ever circumstances.”

Performance on customer experience measures increased, despite the range of challenges which faced the organisation. 

There were sustained periods of very dry weather, freezing conditions and severe flash flooding throughout the year – indicating continued impacts of the changing climate on water resources and ageing infrastructure - which affected customers and services.

Water quality was maintained at a very high level, with monitoring taking place throughout lockdown after new temporary arrangements were implemented. 

Although the multi-million-pound infrastructure investment programme was largely suspended in the early stage of the pandemic, it was safely brought back on-stream working closely with contractors, suppliers and partners. 

Additional financial support arrangements were also provided to businesses impacted by the pandemic.
During the pandemic Scottish Water also worked with partners to assist in early-warning tracking of virus hotspots through the waste water treatment network.

Mr Millican said: “Scotland depends on its public water supply every day. Throughout the pandemic our key workers safely ensured customers had supplies they could rely on for their health, hygiene and hydration. Our waste water teams played a vital role in both helping to maintain public health and protect the environment.”

Scottish Water’s Chief Executive said a focus was also kept on progressing with transformation plans for the next 40 years. These include reducing carbon emissions to net zero, transforming waste water services and managing a vast ageing asset base which requires further investment. In September 2020, the Net Zero Emissions Routemap was published setting out how Scotland’s water and waste water services will transform over the next 20 years to reduce our contribution to global warming.

He added: “This year has proved challenging for us all. As we move forward, we are committed to delivering the best for our customers across the country, providing value to them, supporting the wider economic recovery of the country and doing all we can to protect the environment.

“The twin challenges of climate change impacts and our aging infrastructure mean there is a real and pressing need for transforming our services. This means increased levels of investment delivered more efficiently, reducing our own emissions and going beyond that to help others do the same, and changing the we way operate to ensure future generations can have confidence in their water and waste water services. Our relationship with our customers is vital to all we do and they have a key role to play in supporting our future ambitions.”

The 12-month period covered by the report marked the end of the 2015-21 regulatory period. A new regulatory approach has been implemented with a focus on long-term planning, investment and performance.

Annual Report & Accounts

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