Lead Project Eliminating Risk to Children Nets Industry Award

21 August 2020
WIA lead

UK first

Scottish Water, NHS and local authority health experts are checking water supplies are lead-free at more than 1500 independent nurseries, after school club and schools.

A project led by Scottish Water to help protect young children from the risk of lead in drinking water has been recognised at the Water Industry Awards 2020.  

The  independent water quality watchdog, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR) says the country’s tap water continues to meet stringent quality standards which includes tests for lead. Last year more than 300,000 regulatory samples were carried out with more than 137,000 at customers’ taps. 

Lead does not occur naturally in any significant quantities in water supplies. However higher than normal lead levels can occur when pipes in properties – particularly if built pre-1970 – come into contact with lead supply pipes.

The DWQR is pursuing a number of initiatives to achieve of a reduction of exposure to lead in drinking water and is  working with a range of stakeholders to remove lead service pipes and plumbing.

In a UK first, a team of Scottish Water, NHS and local authority health experts are checking water supplies are lead-free at more than 1500 independent nurseries, after school club and schools. Testing in public sector schools is carried out by relevant local authorities.

The DWQR-commissioned project was announced as the Customer Initiative of the Year at this year’s awards. It was hailed as “Best in class – excellent concept and really well delivered with collaboration” by judges.

Dr Christine Murray, Water Service Strategy Team Leader at Scottish Water, said:  “We are all working together to deliver this complex and sensitive programme. To have this recognition confirms the success of this initiative to protect the health of children across Scotland, and is something for everyone involved in the project to be proud of.”

Scottish Water developed a multi-agency surveillance programme to engage with all privately run education establishments to test all water supplies at drinking water points, and where lead was detected, work to have it removed. 

The complex process required collaboration across many departments within Scottish Water and with other partners, working with sensitivity to avoid causing alarm to children, parents or the wider community.

Investigations have already been completed at 46% of the establishments identified, with samples taken from 2,820 taps and work ongoing to resolve any issues identified.

Dr Murray explained: “Working on this project has been an excellent opportunity for us to show how we work collaboratively.

“Through the links with external organisations this project demonstrates the commitment of Scottish Water to deliver for our future customers.”

When the scheme has been completed, drinking water supplies at all independent schools and private nurseries in Scotland will meet the standard for lead, supporting he health and educational attainment of pupils.


Click here for DWQR lead information

Click here for NHS lead information