Residents in rural Edinburgh community 'stressed and traumatised' after six-year water supply hell

Residents of a small rural community on the outskirts of Edinburgh are at breaking point after enduring six years of hell since a construction giant cut off their water supply.

By Ilona Amos
Sunday, 3rd July 2022, 4:55 am

Householders living on Long Dalmahoy Road, between Balerno and Kirknewton, have historically relied on a private water supply.

But problems began when the nearby Ravelrig quarry, owned by Tarmac, was redeveloped in the 1980s, interrupting natural springs that supplied all five homes along the road.

The situation reached crisis point in 2016, when the houses were left without water for drinking, cooking and washing for more than five weeks.

And now, despite repeated promises and various groundworks being carried out, the residents – including families with young children, pensioners and farmers with animals to look after – still face a water lottery every time they turn on their taps.

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They are angry that Tarmac, which is required under planning conditions to “take all necessary precautions to ensure that a continuous and sufficient supply of potable water is available at all times to those premises”, has continually failed to resolve the situation.

They feel they are being denied “a basic human right”.

Residents of a community on the outskirts of Edinburgh have been suffering disruption to their water supplies for the past six years as a result of operations at nearby Ravelrig quarry, which is owned by construction giant Tarmac. Picture: Bill Henry

Neil Fraser, who lives with his wife Shirley and her 85-year-old father at Craglea, says the poor supply of water over such a lengthy period has been “traumatic and stressful” for locals.

“We have been living with the problems caused by the quarry for over 20 years,” he said.

“However, since September 2016 it has been even less reliable and has failed completely on a great number of occasions.

“Communication from the quarry is habitually poor and promises of dates for a resolution have been missed time and again.

“We feel powerless and helpless.”

The uncertainty is hard on all residents.

“Not being able to use showers and toilets, unable to cook meals and filling buckets from rainwater is unbelievable in this day and age,” Mr Fraser said.

“Washing machines and dishwashers struggle to operate and are continually tripping out.

“It can take over a day to complete a wash cycle.

“I’m also worried about the physical impact on my wife, who carries heavy barrels up a hill to ensure horses have water.

“She suffers continual back pain and has torn a disc.”

Their story was first covered in The Scotsman in October 2016.

That same year Tarmac agreed to fund a new main and later installed pipework to every property.

However, the firm says it has “proved challenging” to finish the job.

Tarmac has confirmed the work will now be delivered by public supplier Scottish Water.

“Unfortunately, after being let down by the original contractor, we have struggled to find a company to complete the works,” a Tarmac spokesperson.

“We’re pleased to now be working with Scottish Water to get the works completed soon and are grateful for their help.

“While we’re disappointed with the significant delays and appreciate the impact on residents, we remain committed to overseeing the completion of the mains connections.”

Households have been assured a replacement supply will be connected by the end of August.

“But we’ve had these promises before,” said Mr Fraser.

Residents will now only believe it when it actually happens.”

Scottish Water could not give an exact timescale, but hopes to get the work done “as soon as possible”.