In hot water; town’s politicians demand answers from Scottish Water

Written by Scott Campbell, Cumbernauld Media's Senior Reporter.

Published at 11:54 on 11 September 2015


Scottish Water have apologised again. Picture: Scott Campbell for Cumbernauld Media.

SCOTTISH Water has reiterated a previously issued public apology to residents throughout Cumbernauld, after a burst water main knocked out supplies to thousands of residents for nearly two days.

Working around the clock, Scottish Water engineers repaired the burst main that had affected the water supplies of thousands of customers in parts of Cumbernauld, last Thursday (3rd September).

The company said that engineers had worked around the clock to restore supplies to the some 1,000 affected households, after the 30 inch water main in Glencryan Woodlands burst.

As the water cascaded down the hill and onto Forest Road, Police officers were forced to close off part of the main route in and out of Abronhill, as Scottish Water and Network Rail engineers worked to safely restore local water supplies and railway services. 

After nearly 12 hours without a normal water supply, Scottish Water announced that bottled water would be available from Wardpark, though the choice of location resulted in a tidal wave of criticism crashing down on the firm, due to the retail park’s remoteness. 

Now, Cumbernauld’s MSP and a local SNP councillor have demanded answers from Scottish Water, with the firm being forced to reiterate a previously issued public apology. 

“Engineers used backfeeds to introduce water supplies from other parts of the network while the repair work on the burst main continued,” a spokesperson for Scottish Water explained.

They added: “The repair work was complex because of the close proximity of a concrete chamber to the affected part of the main. 

“When the burst occurred, there was the potential for it to have affected up to about 17,000 properties. However, our engineers were able to re-zone the network quickly, tanker water into the system and reduce the scale of the disruption. 

“We estimate that around 1000 properties in higher areas of Cumbernauld were affected. 

“Scottish Water apologises for the inconvenience to affected customers and thanks them for their patience and understanding.”

For Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s MSP, Jamie Hepburn, and his Cumbernauld South councillor colleague, William Goldie, the public apology doesn’t go far enough. 

Together, both Mr Hepburn and Cllr Goldie have responded to concerns expressed by a range of local residents, demanding that Scottish Water put better arrangements in place.

Jamie Hepburn, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth’s SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament has written to Scottish Water, setting out the need for better arrangements in dealing with emergency situations.

The area’s MSP has also suggested that identified community organisations who are willing and able to assist in distribution of fresh water can be involved in the event of future incidents.  

His suggestion follows the experience of his North Lanarkshire Council colleague, SNP councillor William Goldie after one such group in Carbrain had volunteered to assist with water distribution but were refused by Scottish Water.

Mr Hepburn has demanded answers from Scottish Water.

Commenting, Mr Hepburn said he had “written to Douglas Millican, the Chief Executive of Scottish Water, raising a number of concerns over the way the distribution of bottled water was handled.”

“Only to have one water supply point in Wardpark, removed from the area affected and inaccessible by public transport, is clearly inadequate,” the area’s MSP explained.

He added: “I am also concerned to hear from vulnerable constituents about the length of time taken to receive water supplies after contacting the Scottish Water helpline.

“I have also asked Mr Millican that consideration be given to Councillor Goldie’s suggestion that suitable local community organisations be accredited and registered to assist with the distribution of bottled water to residents unable to either access distribution points or to carry water home.  It seems ludicrous that any group might offer to help and that offer be turned down.”

Cumbernauld South councillor, William Goldie added: “Following the resumption of water supplies after last Thursday problem it was then disappointing to see two further, albeit smaller, bursts in Greenfaulds last Friday.

“Last Thursday I was approached by a local community group willing to assist in the distribution of bottled water in event of large scale disruption to water supplies,” he explained.

“Unfortunately Scottish Water were unwilling to issue them with water for this purpose.  I have contacted Scottish Water to request that the local knowledge and resources of local groups be used in circumstances such as we experienced last week.”

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