Clear-fresh and great-tasting water supply is promised to residents of North Harris, as Scottish Water’s new state-of-the-art water treatment works (WTW) at Bedersaig enters service this week.

The unit was delivered by sea to Huisinis beach in July 2019 and its official switch-on signals completion of a £4.5 million investment by Scottish Water for the Isle of Harris’s westernmost communities of Gobhaig, Bedersaig and Huisinis.

The new modular WTW was manufactured by RSE (Ross-shire Engineering) at its specialised facility in Muir of Ord, near Inverness.  Before its arrival at Huisinis Beach on a late evening high tide, it was carried by road to Kishorn in Wester Ross, then via a specialised barge across the Minch and through the Sound of Harris.

Final commissioning work and the completion of associated infrastructure was held up during lockdown but was able to resume in the summer with reduced numbers on site and strict precautions in place.

Scottish Water’s project manager Kathy Auld said: “Completing commissioning safely and with care during the Covid-19 pandemic has involved significant challenges. We are very grateful to the local community, the North Harris Trust and our supply chain partners for working with us to enable this major milestone to be achieved. 

“The new, modern treatment works will be able to supply both residents and visitors in this part of Harris with clear, fresh and great-tasting drinking water for many years to come. It also has good capacity to support development and the connection of new customers in the future.”

The North Harris Trust played a key part in the project’s development as a community landowner. The trust previously completed its own project in late 2017 to improve visitor facilities and protect the local environment with the opening of the Huisinis Gateway centre.

Chairman of the North Harris Trust Calum Mackay said: “The pre-existing supplies for Gobhaig and Huisinis have struggled to meet demand in recent years, with regular need for extra water to be brought into the area by road at busier times.

“We are pleased that this investment will ensure a more reliable, secure and sustainable service for both communities, as well as bringing mains water to Bedersaig for the first time.

“The new and improved water supply creates an opportunity for much needed housing and small business developments to take place, building on the work that the Trust has already delivered.”

Scottish Water’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Farrer said: “Identifying and delivering the right solution for this part of North Harris has involved unique challenges – and our local team, our supply chain and our stakeholders have risen to the challenge at every stage.

“After the difficulties we have all had to navigate in 2020, we are proud that our investment supports a strong foundation for these communities and their economy to flourish in the years ahead.”

The picture shows the new WTW arriving at Huisinis on a late evening high tide in July last year (Scottish Water).