The water cycle isn’t just from cloud to tap, there are over 60,000 miles of pipe work under our streets and land in Scotland.
This network of pipes take clean water from our reservoirs to bring you water for your shower, morning cuppa and teeth brushing. 1.52 billion litres of clear, fresh drinking water each day!
The other side of our pipe network take your bathroom waste water and kitchen sink slops away – we remove around 1.1 billion litres of waste water which we treat, recover resources from and return safely to the environment.
History of water
We’ve the Victorians to thank for the original engineering and infrastructure.
Until the late 1800’s diseases such as cholera were rife in our cities. Cities had become crowded places with people crammed into high tenements and basements. The populations sewage would just be tossed into the streets. In Edinburgh the famous cry was ”Gardyloo’ from the residents in higher floors of tenement buidlins tossed their chamber pot’s contents from windows above. The phrase evolved from the French ‘Prenez garde a l’eau!’ – ‘Take regard of the water!
In London, another overcrowded city that was growing every day, the summer of 1858 recorded record temperatures. The ‘Great Stink’ was christened as the Thames began to ferment and nothing could mask the stench. Action had to be taken and Sir Joseph Bazalgette was tasked to solve London’s problem. Other cities followed suit and warrens of sewers were constructed under our streets, taking effluent into estuaries and out to sea. A lot has changed since then of course!
Clean drinking water also emerged as a way to curb illness and epidemics, politicians were under pressure to take action. Again, Victorian engineers created damns in hills surrounding conurbations that led to reservoirs. The word reservoir comes from the Latin ‘ Reservare’ – to keep back, save, retain. Leading to the French ‘reserver’ – to set aside.
Scottish Water manages Scotland’s 300+ reservoirs today. Now they not only serve clean, fresh water to the people of Scotland, they are becoming popular picnic spots and walking areas.