Green Drinking Water? Environmental excellence is standard at new treatment plant

Scottish Water Press releases

Green Drinking Water? Environmental excellence is standard at new treatment plant

Scottish Water Press releases

Construction of a new multi million pound water treatment works for Edinburgh got under way today (Thursday, October 2).

The start of construction of the new works at Glencorse, near Edinburgh was marked by Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, who helped to move the first earth in this major project.

Glencorse Water Treatment Works will bring better quality drinking water to almost half a million people in Edinburgh and surrounding areas,  enabling further economic growth in the city, and ensuring the Capital has a water treatment works fit for the 21st Century.

An important feature of the investment, which will cost just under £130 million, is that the Glencorse works will blend into the local environment by using the latest technology and limiting the amount of energy it needs to send clearer, fresher drinking water to homes and businesses.

Every aspect of the local environment was taken into consideration during the planning of this vital project – including protecting an ancient Roman camp found near the site of the new works, setting the new works four metres into the ground to blend into the surrounding area, and fitting ‘green’ roof technology, which will divert surface rainwater into new wetland habitats for birds. 

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, said: “The Glencorse works will incorporate all the best thinking in terms of reducing energy use, and the latest technology, while delivering higher quality water for Edinburgh and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Ronnie Mercer, Chair of Scottish Water, said: “This is a landmark day for our customers as we start the construction of a long awaited new water treatment works for the city. This premier project will continue to protect public health by supplying safe drinking water from a more modern treatment works. Thanks to modern filtration this clearer, fresher drinking water supply will look and taste better for decades to come.

“During the construction of the new works, discreetly located just off the A702, our customers can be assured that we will continue to provide a reliable service to their homes 24 hours a day.”

Drinking water will continue to be supplied by the water treatment works at Alnwickhill and Fairmilehead until the new works is completed and on stream in early 2011.

Richard Ackroyd, Chief Executive of Scottish Water, said: “This is a massive investment and shows our commitment to providing the best solution for our customers in Edinburgh. As well as the new water treatment works, Scottish Water is investing in our underground pipe network in the capital with new robust trunk mains being installed as part of the ongoing tram work.

“We are also carrying out work at Marchbank Water Treatment Works. It is a whole programme of work for the capital which will bring benefits for years to come.”

The start of construction today ends two years of investigations and has incorporated all the latest technology and modifications.

Scottish Water was today able to reveal the true extent of the “green” investment at Glencorse.

At the outset, Scottish Water moved the original plant design 90 degrees to ensure the site of a Roman camp is not disturbed.

The new works will also  be lowered four metres into the ground to ensure it blends into the landscape and will be shielded by trees.

Innovative  green roof technology will be put in place to soak  up the surface water that falls on the roof space. The rainwater will be stored in natural ponds, creating wetland habitats for birds and encouraging biodiversity.

Meanwhile hydro electric turbines will be used to produce two thirds of electricity needed to work the plant


  • It will deliver up to 175 million litres of water every day
  • That’s enough water to fill Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Pool around 70 times every day
  • More than 450,000 customers throughout Edinburgh and part of Midlothian will receive clearer, fresher drinking water as a result of the investment. (Customers in the north and west of the city, into West Lothian receive their supply from Marchbank WTW, which itself is undergoing a £10M upgrade)
  • Over an 18-month period Scottish Water spoke to local communities, stakeholders and elected members in its largest ever consultation, before even deciding on the site
  • The final plant has been angled 90 degrees from the original design following the discovery of a 2000 year old Roman camp during initial investigations
  • Glencorse WTW will deliver a 21st century replacement to the existing Fairmilehead and Alnwickhill water treatment works, which despite serving the city well for over a hundred years, are now at the end of their working life
  • Because of its location the facility will be supplied with raw water and deliver treated water directly into the capital using gravity, instead of energy sapping pumps
  • Around a third of the plant’s energy needs (200kw) will be supplied by an on-site hydro turbine.
  • The works will be hidden within a treatment building, which itself will sensitively blend into the surrounding landscape
  • The largest ‘green’ roof in Scotland will help to harvest rainwater, which will be stored in biodiverse wetlands which will provide rich habitats for a number of species
  • Because most of the excavated earth will be stored on site to provide the treatment building with further camouflaging, this will reduce site traffic and minimise the number of lorry journeys
  • Sustainable timber will be used to clad the outside of the water treatment works and help it further blend with its surroundings 
  • In a WORLD FIRST a temporary mobile pipe manufacturing plant will be constructed in Midlothian. This will help to reduce lorry journeys by 75 per cent
  • This will allow for the production of extra long pipes, meaning fewer welds, reduced handling and therefore a reduced construction period