Scottish Water completed a project to install a new treatment process at Gairloch Waste Water Treatment Works over the course of 2019. 
The new treatment process consists of septic tanks, a filter and disinfection using ultraviolet (UV) light. This replaced a previous process which had experienced difficulty providing treatment on a reliable basis during normal variations in flow from the Gairloch sewer network.

We continue to work with SEPA and representatives of the local community via a Stakeholder Group to oversee a pilot operating period.

Gairloch Waste Water Treatment Works, viewed from the west

Gairloch WWTW

The Waste Water Treatment Works, near Fasaich, where a new treatment process was installed in 2019

What we are doing

Following the commissioning of the new waste water treatment process in December 2019, a pilot operating period is currently in progress.

Following initial year-round operation of UV disinfection, an agreed trial winter period of operating without the filter and UV will take place between November 2021 and March 2022. Off-season bathing water sampling during this period allowed both Scottish Water and other stakeholders to understand the relative environmental benefit of providing UV treatment outwith the designated bathing season.

In response to challenges experienced in the operation of the disk filter originally installed at the site, an alternative cloth filter was trialled at the WWTW during 2022. Following the success of this trial, a new filter of this type was delivered to Gairloch and installed on a temporary basis to allow operation during the 2023 bathing season. The filter will now be permanently installed on the site over winter 2023/24.

Why we are doing this

The change to the waste water treatment process at Gairloch was made to ensure the site provides waste water treatment on a reliable basis under all normal operating conditions.

Our Stakeholder Group was originally formed to review proposals and agree an acceptable way forward in light of concerns which had been raised by the local community. At the end of the pilot period, Scottish Water will work with the Stakeholder Group to agree long term operating arrangements based on the evidence obtained.

A key goal of all of the work taking place is to ensure that the Excellent status of Gairloch's two bathing waters is maintained.

People on Sand Beach, near Gairloch, with Torridon mountains in the distance

Sand Beach

Parent and child playing on Gairloch Beach

Gairloch Beach

Stakeholder Group

You can find out more about the project that has been delivered at Gairloch and the continuing work of a Stakeholder Group which includes representatives of the local community, SEPA and Scottish Water in our document library.