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October 8, 2003 12:00 AM

The first annual report of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator on the quality of Scotland's drinking water was published today.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator was appointed in April 2002 to monitor the progress of Scottish Water in improving the quality of Scotland's drinking water.

Environment Minister Ross Finnie said:

"The improvement in drinking water quality is good news for Scotland. However, 0.72 per cent of samples failing is not good enough, and the rise in coliform failures is of concern.

"This report highlights the need for continued investment in Scottish drinking water infrastructure 96 particularly to address the persistent problem of bacteria in drinking water.

"That is why we are investing £1.8 billion in the water industry between 2002 and 2006. This record investment will bring substantial improvement to help improve the infrastructure allowing Scottish Water to build on work already undertaken.

"Today's report demonstrates our commitment to delivering higher standards in the water industry in Scotland. It is important that Scottish Water continues to improve drinking water quality and put in place robust infrastructure to ensure these standards are delivered. I welcome the contribution of the Regulator in monitoring performance and driving up standards."

The Drinking Water Quality Annual Report for 2002 published today is the first annual report of the Drinking water Quality Regulator since he was appointed in April 2002 under the Water Industry (Scotland) Act. The report is the 13th in a series since 1990.

Scottish Water was established in 2002 to address decades of under investment in drinking and waste water infrastructure and to deliver substantial efficiencies.

At the same time Ministers created the post of Drinking Water Quality Regulator to monitor the company's performance on drinking water quality and to drive up standards.

The main findings of the report include a continued improvement in overall drinking water quality with only 0.72 per cent of samples failing strict quality criteria in 2002, compared with 0.81 per cent in 2001.

However there was a slight rise in failures for the key microbiological parameters with 204 failures of the coliform standard in 2002 compared with 158 in 2001, and the number of faecal coliform failures rising from 23 in 2001 to 30 in 2002.

Scottish Water announced details of a £1.8 billion capital investment programme on the 2nd of September 2003, covering the period 2002 96 2006. Over the next two and half years Scottish Water plans to commission 1,500 individual projects across Scotland, including the Katrine Water Project. This will include upgrading and, in some cases, building 440 water treatment works, 490 wastewater treatment works, and carrying out water distribution and sewer renewal throughout the whole of Scotland.