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MP taps into £24m water works project

By Gavin Musgrove

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Local MP Danny Alexander
Local MP Danny Alexander

TESTING of equipment has started on Scottish Water’s new £24 million treatment works which the company claims will supply clearer, fresher drinking water to over 10,000 people in the strath.

The plant, which has taken a year to build at Kinakyle, just south of Aviemore, aims to improve the reliability of supplies from Cromdale to Newtonmore.

Latest estimate for the switch-on is mid-to-late October.

Local MP Mr Danny Alexander visited the works on Friday to check on progress. He said: “It was great to have an opportunity to tour the site of the new water works at Aviemore and see at first hand the impressive technology that goes into providing clean drinking water.

“I have no doubt that this new facility will meet the demands of the area for many generations and I look forward to it being brought into service later this year.”

The major investment has been prompted by the large rise in demand projected by the growing local population and the increasing number of holiday-makers, as well as the environmental benefits and the old-age existing infrastructure.

Around 1,500 new houses have been earmarked to be built at An Camas Mòr over the River Spey from Aviemore, with developers hoping to make a start on the first 200 homes next spring.

Mr Simon Harrison, Scottish Water operations manager, said: “It’s great to see the building complete and the treatment equipment installed and starting to be tested.

“This modern plant using boreholes will provide a more reliable, higher quality supply for the region with capacity to support new development.

“It also enables us to protect the sensitive environment of the Cairngorms. It has been a major construction project for the Aviemore area, providing spin-off benefits for the local economy.”

The project is being delivered by Scottish Water Solutions with construction firm Black and Veatch managing the site. At peak times about 70 people are working on the site.

The new supply will come from a vast natural aquifer contained within the gravel bedrock laid down from the last glacial age, and will replace the existing source at Loch Einich high in the Cairngorms.

Four boreholes between 30 metres and 40 metres deep will bring the water to the surface.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “Drinking water quality will be improved, along with capacity so that future developments can be supplied without putting strain on the Cairngorms environment.

“In addition, a large storage tank has been installed in the Aviemore area to improve Scottish Water’s ability to maintain supplies in the event of any problems.

“And the roof of the treatment works is covered in sedum plants that retain moisture and help the building blend in with its surroundings when viewed from above.”

Water bosses have said there should not be much of a change in the taste of the water.

Angling interests had campaigned against the project claiming that the Spey – a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which is home to Atlantic salmon, lamprey and freshwater oysters – could be harmed.

The change-over from the current half-century-old water works at Black Park, by Inverdruie, had initially been expected to take place in the space of a week in August.

The water tank at High Burnside, built as part of the scheme which feeds the local reservoirs, will have a 20-hour supply.

The Cairngorms National Park’s planning committee approved the applications for the project in 2009, despite several members not being convinced with Scottish Water’s claims that they required the new project to meet the growing population.

They were concerned the company was unable to provide figures for the amount of water lost through leakages in the pipe down from Loch Einich.

There was also surprise that no work had been done on the potential impact of the additional water that will coming down the River Druie once the change over to the new plant is made.

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