Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Scottish Water apologises for Golspie water crisis

News Release - Immediate use

Rob Gibson SNP MSP for Highlands and Islands has received an apology for Golspie residents from Scottish Water for the mishandling of last weekend's water stoppage.

He has provided Scottish Water bosses with a 16 point dossier on the anger and frustration expressed by constituents to this latest water stoppage which lasted nearly two days.

Judy Wakker, Community and Public Affairs Manager at Scottish Water's HQ in Dunfermline apologised to constituents around Golspie on behalf of Scottish Water for the inconvenience the problems with the water supply have caused.

Rob said, "She promised immediate action of writing a letter of apology to all residents in Golspie. She also confirmed that Joanna Peebles Highlands and Islands Community Manager and Simon Harrison, Water Operations Manager, will be pleased to meet me and community representatives to discuss this incident in detail. "

" I am also promised an early responses from the Scottish Water Head of Emergency Planning and the General Manager for Customer Service for a detailed written response to the points I raised."

Rob is am member of Holyrood's Transport Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee who regularly interrogate Scottish Water executives on their results. He said,

" A range of answers are needed quickly to reassure Golspie residents. But I can assure them that follow up meetings and close questioning in Committee will follow to avoid any mistakes in Scottish Water procedures in future."


Note of the dossier submitted to Scottish Water.

Golspie water outage 7/8/9 March 10

Golspie suffered yet another major water outage on Sunday 7th March some time between 0900 and 1000 I think) but at 2230 and it still wasn't fixed.

The advertised bottled water in Fountain Square Carpark (not advertised by Scottish Water till 2100) crowd of people waiting because apparently the lorry bringing it had broken down.

Vox pop had it that there were two bursts in the main and it is expected to be fixed "some time tomorrow". Not that the Scottish Water advice line tells you this.


1. Clear material weakness in the water infrastructure serving Golspie, requiring comprehensive assessment and a report to the public, councillors and MSPs. There was an all day outage for the whole of Golspie on 19th February 2009 (that is from before 0400 to approx 1830). There was another in October 2008. There was at least one other similar instance earlier that year.

2. Woeful lack of contingency plan when something does go wrong. It's always dig and hope and the decision to bring water up from some depot a long way off is deferred too long. In Feb 2009 water was not distributed for 12 hours and today it was longer than that. Not good enough for families with young kids and old people living alone without transport. And old people living alone without transport aren't walking down to the Fountain Road car park to carry water back home after ten at night are they? Scottish Water should be going door to door as they used to.

3. It is alleged that there are 4 workmen covering everywhere from Brora down to Ross-shire, but 7 managers. The workers work their socks off, but what do all these managers do?

4. One reason for slow response is, quote: "everything is risk assessed.

5. There is a store of bottled water in Dornoch but Sunday night's supply appears to have come from somewhere down south. Could they find the manager with the key to Dornoch?

6. The articulated lorry bringing the bottled water broke down. When a smaller truck arrived it was only carrying one layer of bottles although there was room on the vehicle for more. Insufficient for those waiting in the Fountain Road car park that night. 9I passed another lorry Paterson’s of Inverness near Calrossie on the A9 heading to Golspie, no doubt at 12.15 Monday 8.3.10

7. Is there a 12 hour rule operated by Scottish Water before they release bottled water? The last two outages appear to have been operating one? Bad for a weekend with kids at home, let alone any other day.

8. Discussions in West End Stores and Post Office, Golspie revealed that when the bottled water arrived on Sunday night, nobody was in charge of handing it out. Some people brought all their children and grabbed loads. Others got nothing.

9. Why is this not accommodated in the Scottish Water Contingency plan?

10. Has the Highland Council Emergency Planning Officer any role in this

11. Does Scottish Water have no contact with the Community Council?

12. Mid-morning Monday trickle had vanished and Scottish Water recorded message claimed problem is now confirmed to Ross St, Tower St, Argo Terrace and Woodlands Crescent. Residents of Littleferry pointed out that it is 3 miles south of that.

13. Golspie in evening of 8 March Bowsers were needed. Nobody had thought to deliver water to Littleferry .Supplies arriving after midnight.

14 Examples. Young woman, alone on house with 2 small kids, husband working on rigs abroad, no water for 2 days, at wits end.

15. Pensioner in heart of village went to buy water in Coop before it ran out. Did not know of bottled water distribution. Very angry at call centre attitude.

16. Scottish Water seems to have had so many complaints they put it through to a call centre in Ireland.

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