Work ongoing to remedy Uist water situation

Scottish Water is continuing to work around the clock to stabilise the treatment process at Bayhead Water Treatment Works (WTW) in North Uist.

Dr Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health and Medicine, NHS Highland, said: “I want to reassure people that our advice not to drink or cook with tap water is a precautionary measure to ensure that there are no health risks from the water. We have acted now to ensure public health is the top priority and to protect the health of the people in North Uist.

“NHS Highland, NHS Western Isles, Western Isles Council and Scottish Water are continuing to monitor the situation and convened again today to review the progress. The don’t drink, don’t cook message will remain in force until we are satisfied that the water treatment process is fully operational again. We will continue to provide further updates should there be any changes to the current advice.”

Simon Harrison, Water Operations Manager, said: “We cannot give a timescale at this point when the WTW will be fully operational. Our staff are working round the clock to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“We have delivered 24 litres of bottled water to everyone affected for drinking and cooking and there is more bottled water available at five locations around North Uist. Water is still ok for washing and flushing toilets. “It is our intention to deliver more bottled water to customers’ homes tomorrow to ensure customers have adequate alternative supplies over the weekend should the current advice remain in force.

“We will also replenish stocks at the five bottled water locations should people require additional stocks. We would ask that customers only take enough additional for drinking and cooking only to ensure that there are enough additional stocks available for everyone. We have also delivered bottled water to schools and residential homes.

“The elevated aluminium levels are due to the raw water colour together with the treatment process at the works which is causing the problem. We altered the treatment process to deal with the colour issues in the raw water supply and this is resulting in higher than normal residual amounts of aluminium in the water.

“We have scientific staff and operations staff on site who specialise in water treatment and they are assessing the various options to get the water supply returned to normal as quickly as possible.”

Households and businesses in parts of North Uist were advised yesterday (5th October from 6pm) not to drink or cook with tap water with immediate effect following the detection of raised levels of aluminium in water samples at Bayhead water treatment works.

The advice was issued for around 450 properties by an Incident Management Team (IMT), chaired by the Consultant in Public Health Medicine (CPHM) at NHS Highland.

Householders and businesses in the affected areas should not use tap water for any drinking or food preparation purpose until further notice. This is a precautionary measure only.

The areas affected are Baleshare, Bayhead, Clachan, Carinish, Paible and Grimsay. Water from other reservoirs and treatment works are not affected.

Simon Harrison, Water Operations Manger, Scottish Water, said: “We are issuing bottled water at five locations on the island as follows: Balranald Church HS6 5DW; The Old Church, Carnish HS6 5EJ; The Bayhead Shop HS6 5DS; Clachan Stores HS6 5HD and Ardnasgruban Post Box, Grimsay HS6 5HT. These will be continually replenished.

“Not all properties on North Uist are affected – customers who are affected have received a notice posted through their doors informing them of the decision. A full list of the affected postcodes is available at – click on ‘Current service updates’ and the list is there, and is also available at the end of this press release.

“We apologise for any inconvenience to our customers in North Uist as a result of these issues at Bayhead WTW. We will restore normal supplies as soon as possible.”

The advice from the IMT is that water should not be used for drinking, food preparation, making babies’ feeds, brushing teeth or for pets. Drinks and ice dispensing machines should also be avoided as these may be connected to the mains supply. However, in the affected area, water can still be used for washing clothes, baths and showers and for flushing toilets.

Customers with any questions can call the Scottish Water Customer Contact Centre on 0845 601 8855. Alternatively email

The full list of affected postcodes affected is as follows.

Ardnastruban, Grimsay HS6 5HT

Ashdail Cottages, Bayhead HS6 5DX

Baleloch HS6 5DG

Balemartin HS6 5DQ

Balemore HS6 5EB

Baleshare HS6 5HG

Balranald HS6 5DW

Bayhead HS6 5DS

Baymore, Grimsay HS6 5HX

Blackpoint HS6 5JB

Bruach Gorm, Carinish HS6 5EL

Caraphat, Caranish HS6 5HR

Caranish HS6 5HL, HS6 5EJ, HS6 5HN

Clachan Locheport HS6 5HD, HS6 5ET

Claddach, Carinish HS6 5HP

Claddach, Illeray HS6 5ES

Claddach, Kirkbost HS6 5EP

Claddach, Kyles HS6 5EW

Claddach, Vallag HS6 5BY

Gearraduph, Grimsay HS6 5HU

Hosta HS6 5DF

Hougharry HS6 5DL

Kallin, Grimsay HS6 5HY

Knockintorran HS6 5ED

Knockline HS6 5ED

Knockquien HS6 5HW

Kyles Paipel HS6 5DY

Langass HS6 5HA

Locheport HS6 5EX, HS6 5EU

Paipalsgarry HS6 5EF

Scolpaig HS6 5DH

Scotpaig HS6 5DH

Scotvein, Grimsay, HS6 5JA

Thigharry HS6 5DE

Uppertown, Carinish HS6 5EH