A quarter-mile stretch of water main pipe that serves The Poligan area of Back, on the Isle of Lewis, has, according to local residents, suffered bursts on more than eight occasions in the last 18 months leaving them without a water supply while engineers battle to patch the leaks.
The mains pipe serving the area is believed to be the original installed in the late 1950s, and while other areas of Back have seen their pipes being replaced more recently, the spur that serves The Poligan has not been replaced, and there are now calls in the area for action.
Peter Checketts, who lives in The Poligan, described the situation as “unacceptable” and said that he was concerned for the area’s elderly residents.
Mr Checketts said: “It has now become a common sight to see engineers out fixing these leaks, sometimes late at night, and, too often, we are being left without running water.
“Although a small supply of bottled water is sometimes dropped at the houses during the repairs,” Mr Checketts commented, “that does not make up for the inconvenience and problems caused by the loss of supply.
“They are patching up pipes that have needed replaced for many years, and that has to happen as soon as possible, before a bigger and more longer-term disruption of the supply occurs.”
A Scottish Water (SW) spokesperson said: “We recognise that some customers in Back have experienced recurring disruption to their water supply in recent years. We understand the inconvenience this causes and would like to apologise to customers who have been affected.
“Whenever bursts occur, our local team seeks to identify the extent of the issue and restore supplies for affected customers as quickly as possible. In some cases, repairs can succeed in restoring reliable service for a significant period of time. The performance of our water networks is monitored closely and, where problems recur repeatedly over time, this results in further investigation to identify what action is needed for the long term.”
In a statement, Scottish Water’s spokesperson did highlight the recent completion of major works delivering “a new strategic” water main between Marybank, Back and Tolsta to provide those districts “with a more secure water supply”, and added that the need for investment in the local distribution network that serves Back had been confirmed and some outline design work had already been carried out.
SW’s spokesperson concluded: “The delivery of this work is being planned and prioritised alongside significant similar investment needs in communities across the Western Isles and beyond.
“Scottish Water faces a challenge maintaining and renewing infrastructure which is ageing, as well as responding to the impacts of climate change, but we aim to invest on a sustainable basis over the years ahead, working with our island supply chain partners.”
But, SW also confirmed that residents who report multiple unplanned supply interruptions in the same financial year can apply for a payment equivalent to between 25% and 100% of their annual water charge depending on the level of disruption reported.
Further details of our Service Standards and the process to make a claim are available from SW’s website at Our Services Your Rights – Scottish Water.”