View of the River Kelvin


Scotland is renowned worldwide for the environmental quality of our rivers, lochs and seas, which attract visitors and support our key industries. 

Improving Urban Waters

Scotland’s water quality which is now at its highest level since the first Water Framework Directive classification in 2009, with 87% of waterbodies now achieving at least “good condition”.

Scotland’s River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) sets out the steps we will take to further protect and improve our water environment. This included a commitment to producing a routemap for the improvement of urban waters.

Our first Improving Urban Waters Routemap was published in 2021 and we have produced annual updates.

Our 2023 update highlights the progress that has been made in transforming our wastewater systems to deliver environmental benefits.


Annual Improving Urban Waters Routemap Update

Click here to view the Urban Waters Routemap 2023 update

View here
Urban River

Urban Rivers

We know that climate change and customer disposal of inappropriately flushed items will continue to put increased pressure on the sewer network unless we do something different and the current policy and regulatory framework under which we operate was not designed to deal with these issues. 

We are committed to SEPA’s proposal to engage with stakeholders to inform longer-term ambitions for the urban water environment.

We are also committed to improving our understanding of how our sewer network operates and how it impacts the water environment. 

The routemap sets out how we are working to: 

  • Improve water quality (to support Scotland’s RBMP objectives)
  • Increase monitoring and reporting to cover all combined sewer overflows (CSOs) that discharge into the highest priority waters.
  • Significantly reduce sewer-related debris in the environment
  • Reduce spills from the sewer network 

Improving Urban Waters Routemap

Download the full routemap.

Download here

Combined Sewer Overflow FAQs

Commonly asked questions about CSOs.

Click here

We are taking a circular economy approach to delivering these outcomes which will allow us to balance different environmental outcomes. 

We cannot do this on our own and achieving these outcomes requires significant effort from many stakeholders, including consumers and businesses, as well as SEPA and local and national government, to find and implement the most sustainable options to reduce sewage litter and spills in the longer-term at an affordable price for the Scottish public. 

Progress with the routemap is reported annually to Ministers and key stakeholders and we will continue to update the routemap as we gather new knowledge and insights from our activities and through the outcome of wider stakeholder engagement.


Listen to this podcast to find out more about our journey and progress through the Urban Waters Routemap.