More than 1,000 graduates and apprentices will help transform Scotland’s drinking and waste water services making them greener and fit for future generations.

They will play a critical part in ensuring Scottish Water has access to emerging talent when it will invest £4.5 billion over a six year period on thousands of miles of vital water pipes, sewer networks, treatment works and other assets.

Most will work on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) projects across Scotland. They will also help shape and support service excellence for the five million people the utility serves.

All the young people taken on will play a part ensuring Scottish Water delivers net zero emissions by 2040 by building network capacity to cope with changing weather patterns, deliver excellent quality drinking water, and protecting the environment.

The utility says graduates and apprentices will be “essential” between now and 2027 as it transforms its assets and the way it operates, ensuring it continues to be one of the most trusted organisations in the country.

The roles will also see the emerging talent gain on-the-job skills and help contribute to a flourishing Scotland in terms of growing a skilled future workforce.

They will be employed in Scottish Water and a number of partner organisations who will deliver one of Scotland’s biggest capital investment infrastructure programmes which will enhance Scotland’s water and waste water services.

Mark Dickson, Scottish Water’s Director of Capital Investment, said: “These young people will play a vital role in ensuring we deliver our ambitious plans for the next decade and beyond.

“They will bring a range of skills to help us achieve the change needed on the scale and speed to meet the challenge of providing services the public expect and rely on, while also addressing the impact that  a changing  climate has on our natural resources and infrastructure.

“Everyone who takes part will be pivotal in helping us reach our Route to Net Zero and, hopefully, in decades to come to be experts in the water industry serving a flourishing Scotland.

“We wanted to ensure our major programme of work for the next few years had a specific focus on delivering skills and development opportunities for young people as we transform how we operate, and we look forward to working with them to help  develop the essential skills for the water industry and beyond.”

The new starts will help Scottish Water undertake a period of work spanning  six years with an optional six-year extension. The initiative will maximise collaboration and consistency between partner organisations and to help meet net zero emissions targets, efficiency and supply chain support as and deliver service excellence for customers and communities.

Work will include , refurbishment and replacement of treatment plants and networks, covering mechanical, electrical, engineering, civil engineering, construction and maintenance services across Scotland.

Scottish Minister for Green Skills, Lorna Slater, said: “Responding to the climate emergency is a critical challenge facing our society and planet, and one that will necessitate adopting new roles and ways of working.

“We recognise the importance of a joined-up approach across all sectors of the economy to develop the upskilling and retraining opportunities required to enable people to take on new, green jobs and ensure communities across Scotland are part of a just transition to net zero emissions.

“It is great to see Scottish Water leading on this graduate and apprenticeship scheme, and working with partner companies, to prepare their workforce to seize these opportunities and further develop their skills

“I am confident that this kind of investment will help us to build and sustain our highly skilled workforce and support Scotland’s climate targets.”

Director of National Training Programmes at Scotland’s skills agency, Skills Development Scotland said: “Providing opportunities for young people through apprenticeships and work-based learning is crucial to ensure we have the critical skills needed for the economy and to support net zero ambitions.

“SDS is part of the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan to support ambitions to tackle climate change, with work-based learning and apprenticeships recognised as vital to support the transition to net zero. Employers like Scottish Water see the benefits of investing in apprenticeships to develop the future workforce while supporting the next generation of talent.”

The scheme was also welcomed by Grahame Barn, Chief Executive of CECA Scotland, the trade body for Scotland’s civil engineering contractors and representing over 80% of the industry, said: “The positive impact of infrastructure investment will be felt on the ground as civil engineering contractors work alongside Scottish Water to create local jobs, support businesses and nurture the next generation of talent.

“Our sector not only supports the vital infrastructure that keeps everyone connected but will also deliver the chance of a greener future by building the green skills we need to turn Scotland’s climate ambition into reality.

“Over the course of the programme of work, contractors will create the opportunities for apprentices to have the best possible springboard towards a successful career in construction and make a meaningful difference in Scotland’s transition to Net Zero.”

The graduates and modern apprentices will come from a range of companies who work in partnership with Scottish Water including Clancy, Morrison Construction, George Leslie Ltd, RWGM joint venture, Ross-shire Engineering, WGM Engineering & BGEN Joint Venture and Morrison Water Services.

Scottish Water is committed to supporting the Young Person’s Guarantee which seeks to ensure young people in Scotland are provided with the opportunity of an apprenticeship, fair employment – including work experience, taking part in a formal volunteering programme, training or a place at a university or college.  Every year the utility takes on a number of people in a range of these roles.

The utility’s own broad apprenticeship programmes typically run for four years and focus upon the integration of learning both on and off-the-job.

Mr Dickson said: “Apprenticeship programmes have high currency within our business. Some of our leaders are former apprentices and there is a great deal of value placed on building for the future through the development of young people who understand the nature of this business, who have the technical skills required to perform safely and effectively, and who understand the vital role that we play within our communities and society.”

Scottish Water is a member of the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, gives employers and industry a leading role in developing apprenticeships in Scotland.  It ensures apprenticeships develop to meet industry and economic need, fair work, and job opportunities.

A state-of-the-art tunnel boring machine called Tunnelling Tanya has reached a significant milestone and ‘broken through’ in Paisley ahead of the completion of Scottish Water’s major investment to improve water quality and the natural environment in two local rivers.


The TBM broke through in the town’s Saucelhill Park after completing the final section in the middle of a one-mile-long sewer, or waste water tunnel, under the streets of Paisley in the £17m project.


Tunnelling Tanya, and one other TBM before her, have been constructing the tunnel since autumn 2016 as part of the project, which also includes the installation of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) in the town centre.


She broke through at the bottom of a 65 feet deep shaft when the cutting head removed the final pieces of earth and rock along the route.


On the final drive of about 280 metres, the TBM removed about 5000 tonnes of rock and on the entire route an estimated 25,000 tonnes.


During the construction, the TBM installed 109 concrete pipes which form the tunnel.


Speaking after watching the breakthrough, Project Manager Brian Boland said: “This is a great achievement for the team as it is obviously a key moment in the project and follows two and a half years of complex and painstaking work.


We have experienced significant engineering challenges during the tunnelling and this has meant the work took longer than we had originally anticipated. But we have overcome those challenges and I’m delighted that we have now completed the tunnelling.


We are particularly thankful to the people of the area for their patience and understanding while this work has been progressing.”


Work will now start on dismantling the TBM and covering the shafts at the breakthrough point adjacent to Canal Street railway station and Saucelhill Park and at another shaft in South Campbell Street.


These areas will be reinstated so that the infrastructure is invisible and the landscape is restored to the condition it was in before the work started.


The new infrastructure, which is the biggest investment of its kind Scottish Water has ever made in Renfrewshire, will substantially reduce the frequency of spills from the sewer network into the Espedair Burn and White Cart Water in storm conditions.


Contractors Amey, working for Scottish Water, are constructing a large diameter interceptor sewer which will start at Bridge Street car park and go across the Watermill Hotel car park and Lonend before going along Saucel Street, beneath Saucelhill Park and the railway line near Canal Street Station, Espedair Street, Rowan Street and Kilncroft Lane/Neilston Road.


The new sewer will prevent spills by intercepting the overflows from CSOs currently spilling to the Espedair Burn. It will then transfer these flows downstream to the new CSO being built near Bridge Street/Mill Street. The sewer will, therefore, completely remove the spills from the Espedair Burn.


One and a half metres in diameter (5ft) and weighing in at an impressive 23 tonnes, Tunnelling Tanya was named by Hope Hunter, a pupil at St Charles Primary School


The new stretch of sewer has a diameter of up to 1.5 metres and was installed at depths of between 4m and 20m.


A total of 15 shafts were installed along the sewer route, with the TBMs tunnelling between them.


This method was much more efficient and less disruptive than using the open cut method of excavating, given the depths of the pipe and the urban location.


The project is being delivered for Scottish Water by contractors Amey working with Donegan Civil Engineering.

*Photo’s credited to SNS Photography*

Innovative new technology which can detect where and when water bursts are likely to happen saved Scottish Water £2 million in 2018 – and prevented more than 2,000 bursts across the country.

Scottish Water is the first water utility in the UK to use innovative surge technology to predict the location and timing of where a burst will happen. It does this by looking at the cause and effect of previous bursts and previous customer contact in relation to bursts and works out where future incidents might occur.

The utility has been using the technology since 2013 and since then there has been a 35 per cent reduction in customer contact – as fewer people are ringing about bursts and their associated impact including water loss and low pressure. It has also delivered an energy saving of more than £40,000.

The technology has been so successful it is estimated it will have saved the utility £4.1 million on operational costs by 2021.

Scott Young, leakage delivery Team Leader at Scottish Water, has been working on the project for five years. He was part of a three-strong team which assessed historical data of more than 60,000 historic bursts in the drinking water network to work out where they were most frequent and why.

They discovered how transients – a short-lived pressure wave – in the water network can cause increased pipework bursts. Transients are caused by normal variation in water demand patterns – sudden ‘shocks’ to the network, such as a pump starting or stopping, can cause them. Before the project began, Scottish Water, and the water industry in general, had little understanding of them.

Scott – along with Scottish Water Technical Support Adviser Bob Wood and Leakage Delivery Manager Allan Davie – started by investigating repeat bursts around pumping stations. In order to understand transients better they had to be able to monitor them.

Data loggers – a device connected to water meters to track the amount of water use on a constant basis – used by Scottish Water’s display data as a 15 minute average. This meant transients could slip past undetected. As part of this project the team developed high-speed loggers which could process samples at a rate of 120 per second.

Scott, who is based in Scottish Water’s Edinburgh office, said: “This work was critical, as it led us to a real understanding of how the network operates. We can see where transients occur, how they travel through the network, what speed they travel at. Information from the loggers allowed us to see what happened in the network when we tried starting pumps using a variable speed drive, compared to a regular start.

“We slowed the start-up down to two to three minutes and discovered the pump did not shock the network – the slower start-up no longer caused transients, this was key to the findings.”

The team then created a model using historical data to predict the number of bursts normally expected to happen within a five km radius of pumping stations. This was based on the age of the pipe and its diameter and the material it was made of. They could then compare the number of expected bursts at the site with the actual number of bursts.

This technology is being run at 110 sites across Scotland with an average 81% reduction in bursts in each 5km radius. To date this has prevented 2,500 expected bursts – with each burst costing Scottish Water about £1,400 a time that is a £2 million saving. It also means less disruption to the network which means a better service for the utility’s five million plus customers

Scott said: “This knowledge puts us at the leading edge of the water industry. We have already started sharing our findings across the UK, with others looking to replicate what Scottish Water is doing.

“It could also affect how we could approach things like investment in the future. In the past, with frequently occurring bursts, we might have replaced the pipes. But if we’re not shocking the network, they won’t be under the same pressure and may not even need to be replaced.

“By stopping transients from occurring, we’re making our network as calm as possible. That lets us rule out one cause of bursts and get to the true reasons for them if they occur in these areas. There are lots of opportunities for Scottish Water to explore.”

Scott added, “This was very much a labour of love and being involved in the five years from start to finish was fascinating. To see how this developed from an idea to a pioneering tool which has transformed how we deal with potential bursts – saving time, money and energy – has been incredible. It is great our customers are benefitting from this- as bursts can cause a lot of inconvenience.”

Scott and his team were runners up in this year’s Institute of Water ‘Scottish Area Innovation Award’ for the ‘Strictly Innovation’ category and has presented the project to the UKWIR with delegates from water companies from across the UK.


A new technology developed in the US which could revolutionise the way the world’s waste water can be processed is being tested by experts at Scottish Water.

A six month trial of Microvi’s MicroNiche Engineering (MNE) technology is taking place at Scottish Water’s Waste Water Development Centre at Bo’ness.

The technology uses specific bacteria which eat pollutants in the waste water. It creates an environment for these bacteria – known as biocatalysts – to make them work more efficiently.

It is designed to intensify the population of the bacteria, which are put in a special capsule to encourage them to work much faster. The process is designed to speed up the rate at which the good bacteria out-compete the bad bacteria.

In previous testing in the USA the sludge produced using Microvi was shown to be only a around a tenth of typical levels.

The trial at Bo’ness will test the limits and conditions in which the biocatalysts can operate and see if this technique has the potential to transform how waste water is treated.

George Ponton, Head of Research and Innovation at Scottish Water, said: “We are excited to see the outcome of the trials of this potentially innovative waste water process. If this process works it would transform the way waste water is treated.”

“To meet the future demand of an ever-growing population it is essential that we find ways to increase the capacity and efficiency of our existing assets. Microvi offers the potential to meet growth requirements faster and at lower cost than many current conventional plant extensions.” 

Microvi’s technology was designed and developed in the US and is already used in parts of North America and Australia.

The team at the centre will carry out rigorous testing of the new process from now until April after which Scottish Water will look at the findings to determine if the process would be useful and cost effective at any of Scotland’s waste water treatment plants.

Dr Fatemeh Shirazi, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer of California-based Microvi, said:We are delighted to work closely with Scottish Water at its pioneering test and development centre. As we have seen at other demonstration projects in the UK, the Microvi MNE technology is positioned to deliver a paradigm shift in the way we treat wastewater while protecting health and preserving the environment.”

“It is an exciting time for the industry as we find new ways to respond to new challenges in an ever-expanding world.”

The test centre, the only facility of its kind in the UK, is situated next to Bo’ness Waste Water Treatment Works making it a unique and dynamic research hub for waste water technologies. Users can test new processes, technologies and equipment under live conditions in a safe and operational scale environment to enhance the marketability of their products without risk to Scottish Water operations.

The centre provides three individual feeds of waste water from different stages in the treatment process. All discharges from testing areas enter back into the normal treatment process, offering a flexible and low-risk testing environment.  There is also the provision for testing of new screening innovations at the inlet to the Treatment Works.

Operated by the utility’s commercial subsidiary, Scottish Water Horizons, users can also benefit from UKAS accredited sampling and analysis services.