Scottish Government
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Report shows drinking water never better

The quality of Scotland's drinking water has never been better, according to a report published yesterday.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator's (DWQR) report into the state of supplies in 2006 shows that, of the 170,552 tests carried out on samples taken from consumers' taps, 99.66 percent met strict European standards.

More than 99 percent of samples were also clear of coliform bacteria, making these the best microbiology results since water quality regulations were introduced in 1991.

Despite this, the DWQR, Colin McLaren, warned that in a few areas the taste and appearance of drinking water is still an issue. He stressed that Scottish Water must do more to ensure water is not only safe but also acceptable to consumers.

Colin McLaren said:

"Scotland's water industry continues to make encouraging progress in raising standards of supply.

"However, Scottish Water could and should do more in certain areas to meet consumer expectations and ensure that drinking water tastes and looks good, as well as meeting the regulatory standards.

"I recognise that a lot of work has gone into upgrading supplies across Scotland and look forward to further improvements which, I hope, will go some way to addressing the remaining hotspots."

While the report is generally positive, it highlights that the number of consumer complaints about drinking water quality received by Scottish Water was 25,299, (2,746 more than 2005). The majority, 56.9 per cent, concerned discolouration.

The number of operational incidents which could have impacted on the quality of water supplied also increased in 2006 with 54 events serious enough to be investigated by the Regulator. This compares with 42 in 2005.

Drinking water quality regulation began in 1991 and was monitored by the Scottish Executive and its predecessor before the post of DWQR was created in 2002.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator is independent of Scottish Ministers and ensures that the drinking water quality duties imposed on Scottish Water are complied with. Water quality data provided by Scottish Water are regularly reviewed and a programme of targeted audits takes place to examine all aspects of the supply. The Regulator also supervises local authority enforcement of the private water supply regulations. An annual report is presented to Scottish Ministers detailing the assessment of drinking water quality the previous year.

Where drinking water does not meet the required standard, the regulator has powers to investigate and ensure problems are resolved. This can involve taking enforcement action.

The DWQR also has a role in helping to define Scottish Water's Investment Programme by ensuring that any deficiencies are addressed by the programme. He is committed to ensuring that drinking water supplies in Scotland are of the highest possible standard.

Colin McLaren took over from the previous regulator, Tim Hooton in September 2005 and has been involved in the enforcement of drinking water quality regulations since 1992.

Hotspots for problems such as taste and colour:

  • Discolouration: North Ayrshire, Newton Stewart, parts of Stirlingshire and Dunbartonshire, Ness and South Uist on Western Isles and Lerwick in Shetland
  • Taste: Edinburgh (West), West Lothian, Hawick, parts of Fife and Dundee, Peterhead and Dunoon
Drinking Water Quality Regulator's (DWQR) report

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