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Transforming Scotland’s Waters –
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Transforming Scotland’s Waters –

Water Environment Improvement Actions

Through a comprehensive new plan and enhanced resources, the future generations will be better able to preserve and improve Scotland’s water environment.

The River Basin Management Plans were developed and delivered jointly. They include a range priority measures such as working with land managers to reduce pollution from agriculture and supporting the passage migratory fish like salmon.

To complement these actions and ensure that rivers, beaches and urban waters are free from debris and reduce spills from sewers, Scottish Water has also published its own route map and announced plans to invest half a billion pounds in Scotlands waste water network.

This combined program of work will ensure Scotland’s rivers and lochs, estuaries and coastal areas, as well groundwater, continue to supply drinking water and support fisheries. It will also serve as an essential resource for businesses and agriculture. It will also promote health and wellness through recreation.

Today, Mairi McAllan, Environment Minister, addressed the Scottish Parliament.

Scotland is known worldwide for its quality rivers, lakes, wetlands, and seas. Two-thirds of our waters are in excellent condition, far exceeding the European average. This year, 99% of our bathing waters have met environmental standards and more than ever reached excellent status.

“Our natural environment attracts millions every year and supports our exports high-quality produce. The survival of Scotland depends on this resource. It is vital that we manage it to ensure that society, economy and the environment are sustainable for future generations.

SEPA and Scottish Water have worked together since 2010 to upgrade 104 wastewater treatment facilities and 279 storm water overflows. They have invested 686 million. They are now planning to invest half of a billion more to protect Scotland’s water network.

The River Basin Management Plans are our vision and ambition to not only protect Scotland’s waters but also to improve and restore the water environment for everyone. The plans will result in 81% improvement in Scotland’s water environment by 2027. That is an improvement of 15% over current results.

Terry AHearn Chief Executive, Scottish Environment Protection Agency said:

Scotland welcomed the world to Glasgow this year, showcasing both our amazing environment and global ambition.  Our national assets, our coastlines and waters, are vital to our economic, environmental, and social well-being.

We have much to be proud of in Scotland. Our rivers, lochs and canals are at their best and best in the UK.  Over 1,200 km of rivers and bathing waters have been made available to fish.  We have more work ahead.

We recognize that people have been more concerned about their local water environment than ever before the pandemic.  The new River Basin Management Plan in Scotland builds on previous progress and prioritizes actions to improve urban and rural water, while addressing the challenges presented by our changing climate.  The RBMP includes the first in a three-year series of rolling plans SEPA has requested from Scottish Water to decrease the effects of sewage leaks.

As we have seen, systemic progress requires partnerships. This is why, over the next period, we will work closely with the Scottish Government, Scottish councils and Scottish Water. We will also regulate activities where necessary as we take the next steps in delivering a better water environment for our nation.

Simon Parsons, Director for Strategic Customer Service Planning at Scottish Water said:  

We have invested in a program that has contributed to improvements in Scotland’s water environment over the past 20 years. 

Scotland is renowned for the quality of its environment and its waters and the publication of ourroute maptoday recognises thesteps we need to now take to safeguard that reputation in the face of increasingly extreme weather resulting from climate changeand the impact it has on an ageing sewer system. 

We have announced a series of planned investments in our waste watersystem, from our treatment works to the Combined Sewer Overflows, which will be worth up to half a million pounds. This demonstrates our commitment to protecting Scotland’s urban waterways for decades to follow.

Customers can also play a huge part too many inappropriately flushed items such as wet wipes enter our network which either cause sewer flooding, blockages or appear as debris in rivers and beaches. 

We are committed to working with a wide range partners to deliver innovative solutions to surface water removal, reducing impermeable materials, and following a circular approach to address this issue. 


The River Basin Management Plans They are published every six months and are prepared and delivered by the Scottish Government, SEPA and other public bodies. The plans are supported by scientific evidence and data so that action can be targeted where it will have the greatest environmental impact.

Access Scottish Water’s Urban Waters Improvements Routemap.

SEPA conducts a comprehensive monitoring program to assess the state of Scotland’s water environment. This classification covers four distinct themes: water quality (water quantity), fish migration (water quality), and physical condition. The most recent classification shows that 66% overall of Scotland’s water environment are in good condition. This is significantly more than England’s 16% and higher than the European average.

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