Seil Chat

Sewage system
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Author:  Sue Fenton [ Mon May 11, 2015 5:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Sewage system

In today's Herald:

Scottish Water accused of wasting money over Seil sewage system
Monday 11 May 2015

ISLANDERS have accused Scottish Water of wasting taxpayers' money as it plans to decommission an £11.7 million sewage treatment system installed just seven years ago.

The company stands accused, by residents of the isle of Seil, of wasting taxpayers' money with the state-of-the-art sewage system, which was installed in 2008 against the community's wishes.

Now water bosses want to scrap that scheme, because it is too expensive to run, needing a steady stream of sludge emptying tankers and maintenance staff.

Locals are furious that water bosses want to splash out another £1.7m on capital costs for a new plan to cut maintenance expenditure, which is understood to be running at £100,000-£200,000 a year to serve 130 houses.

And there is outrage amidst claims that the new proposal would see the 500 strong community's partly treated sewage piped from one end of the island to the other, and dumped into the sea at a Special Area of Conservation.

Island doctor George Hannah said: "The scheme they put in was outrageously expensive and so is the running cost. It is a complete and utter waste of money, it is distressing how much money has been wasted. It was poorly thought out, an ill-conceived scheme."

But he said the new multi-million pound plan was not needed either and claimed that modern septic tanks, or small biological units, installed to serve small groups of houses, is all that is needed.

Around twelve houses in Seaview Terrace, Seil, remain unconnected to the sewage system.

A spokesman for Scottish Water said: "The provision of funding for Scottish Water to provide appropriate treatment for Seaview Terrace has presented an opportunity to take a strategic view of sewage treatment for the wider area.

"The strategic view is that a more sustainable treatment option for the island will represent a reduced whole life cost as well as being the correct and appropriate level of treatment for the particular SEPA designated watercourse.

"Scottish Water would be negligent if we didn't look towards the best, lowest whole life cost solutions for our assets."

Consultations on the new proposal are under way and the spokesman said: "Through the operation of the current membrane plant, actual operational costs have proved to be higher than originally forecasted. This is comprised of both energy and ongoing maintenance costs."

Author:  Stevie Jarron [ Tue May 12, 2015 6:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

Very new to this situation.

What are the implications for the householders here?

Is the new capital investment mentioned a future fix or an instant one? Are we back to septic tanks again?

What are the household cost implication on the council tax?

What are the water quality issues around the island's shores?

Sorry for the ignorance.

Author:  NickB [ Tue May 12, 2015 7:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

In short (and someone correct me if/where I am wrong)

~ SEPA established strict standards for discharge into Balvicar Bay and the Sound because they were shellfish waters

~ Scottish Water decided to put in a membrane sewage treatment for Seil in spite of the fact that the two previous similar systems they had installed did not work

~ The island suffered two years of horrendous disruption. A few homeowners/landowners profited from generous reinstatement projects. Others did not.

~The road was pretty wrecked. Some field drainage was damaged. The view across the foreshore was seriously degraded by the treatment plant, which was never properly landscaped.

~ The system has never worked properly. Sewage has been trucked out and .more bizarrely, trucked in on occasions. There are smells in Summer.

~ Some say there are not enough houses on the system, others say it is near capacity. I have no idea which is true

~ Scottish Water have now given up and admitted defeat - they say the system will never work

~ The new 'solution' is to ditch the treatment plant and pump all the sewage from this side of the island over the hill to Seaview, where it will be treated in some sort of septic tank prior to discharge. SEPA's standards on discharge quality in this location are much lower.

~ There should be no issues for houses this side of the island that are already connected to the system

~ Ellenabeich could allegedly be connected to this new system later.

~ The original system cost over £12,000,000 , amounting to something like £100,000 per house connected.

~ No-one on this island trusts Scottish Water not to screw it up again.

I think that is it. There was a lot of correspondence on this forum at the time (when anonymous posting was still allowed) and a Search can be illuminating. Her are a few to get you started:

Summer sewage tankers

The new sewage system is a huge success then . . .

Sewage (again!)

The new sewage outflow pipe

Author:  Stevie Jarron [ Tue May 12, 2015 9:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

As a frequent tourist to the island for 15 years prior to "making the move", I can remember the traffic delays through Clachan Seil for many visits, many months apart. For it to seem to have been all in vain towards a final treatment solution must be very frustrating.

Seems like they've fitted a fantastic solution, but more suited to someone else's problem.

So the fall back solution is "pump it out to sea"!? Sigh!

Author:  NickB [ Tue May 12, 2015 10:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

Stevie Jarron wrote:
Seems like they've fitted a fantastic solution, but more suited to someone else's problem.

This is the third such system Scottish Water have installed.

None of them have worked.

Author:  Stevie Jarron [ Tue May 12, 2015 11:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

For £100k per household you could have all fitted high spec primary, secondary and tertiary septic systems with UV treatment and still had enough left over for, well, about £75k per household for whatever you want!

Author:  NickB [ Tue May 12, 2015 11:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

Stevie Jarron wrote:
For £100k per household you could have all fitted high spec primary, secondary and tertiary septic systems with UV treatment and still had enough left over for, well, about £75k per household for whatever you want!


And now the system is being scrapped in favour of pumping everything over the hill and out to sea elsewhere.

You wouldn't, as they say, read about it.

Author:  NickB [ Wed May 13, 2015 9:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

You can contact Scottish Water directly with your concerns via the Project Comms Advisor:


Author:  Sue Fenton [ Wed May 13, 2015 9:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

Further to the above -

No provision was made for the connection of our newbuild house to the new sewage system (which goes past the front door). We were told that to connect would cost around £30K, as it was a pressurised system.

Consequently, we opted for a state-of-the-art septic tank/peatbank, costing around £7K, to treat everything before it went into the designated shellfish waters of Clachan Sound.

Imagine our surprise to find that neighbours, and others, continue to discharge straight into the sea/Sound with no treatment at all!

Author:  Bob Garrow [ Fri May 15, 2015 5:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

Hello I'm new to Seil chat.

I resell portable and permanent plant, one with technology which cleans water for you to drink and another with different technology to clean completely waste water after you.

Over a hundred of my supplier's design submerged aerated fixed film biological package waste water treatment plants have been installed in sensitive environments round the world in the last twenty five years.

They work and make cost sense from a single house size up. Scottish Water operate one at MoD Garelochhead Transit and Training Camp under a sub contract. It has variable loading from two thousand men down to fourteen with a high cookhouse grease loading.

Unfortunately I cannot offer to show you round this. See if you can spot it on internet aerial photos at the bottom left corner nearest the railway. Grid reference 243904.

The nearest accessible plant is one owned by the National Trust at their Wasdale camp site in the Lake District National Park.

I've been promoting these to Scottish Water since at least March 2008 when I supplied them with proposals for community units in Glencoe and Ballachulish. The Ballachulish units were specified to meet European Union Shellfish Growing Waters discharge regulations.

I'd be happy to talk to Scottish Water or to the Isle of Seil community about renting a unit for a several months onsite trial processing a meaningful proportion of the actual sewage brought to the Seil plant by the sewers Scottish Water have built. This would give us data to decide whether a unit there or decentralized community and single dwelling units were a cheaper option. A plant unit would be quicker and less disruptive to implement. Both alternatives are likely to be cheaper and cleaner than Scottish Water's proposals

Although the community taking this in hand would be a fraction of the cost and upheaval what we cannot match is the cross subsidy within Scottish Water. They take the cost of sewage processing across their total waste water operation and calculate a tariff on council tax bands the same whereever the charge payer is located.

A hybrid Seil community operating deal with Scottish Water could save Scottish Water hundreds of thousands of pounds annually and maybe a million pounds of further capital works. If the Scottish Water's savings were shared Seil might have a community business company with hundreds of pounds of surplus annual income. Using a business model which is a close cousin to community energy companies would reduce the pioneering risk. is an introduction. We have much more information than this that we have put on the internet for the world to see.


Bob Garrow

Tel:- 0141 956 2732

Water cleaned for you and after you

Author:  NickB [ Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

The March Community Council minutes are now available on the Community site, and are well worth a read for the discussion about the new sewage proposals.

My personal view is that Scottish Water is an out of control behemoth driven by lunatics.

:rant on And without wishing to rub it in to all those enthusiasts who poo-pooed me and other doubters on this forum when the new 'modern' system was first mooted and the wrecking started - we told you so :rant off


Author:  NickB [ Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system


:stir Warning - deliberately provocative post :stir

:rant on
For those who can't be bothered reading the CC minutes here's a wee extract:
Fraser MacKintosh, Assets Manager of Scottish Water, said:

Scottish Water has a duty to its customers to pursue the cheapest whole-life solution.

Mr. Garrow (see two posts above) apparently believes his systems would offer a vastly cheaper, cleaner and less disruptive alternative. I don't have an opinion, as I am not a sewage engineer. What is significant is that Scottish Water refuse to talk to him about this. And I have no doubt Bob Garrow is only one of a long list of experts they have refused to listen to.

(Local residents with huge engineering experience told Scottish Water the current system was unfit for purpose before construction started)

So much for 'duty to their customers' . . . it seems that this duty only extends to considering a narrow range of increasingly daft and expensive solutions dreamed up by people who perhaps should be cleaning toilets rather than designing sewage systems.
:rant off

Author:  Bob Garrow [ Thu Jun 18, 2015 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Sewage system

A picture is worth 10,000 words.

I can e mail you but have not managed to upload this picture.

This is the sewage treatment plant ready for shipment to the British Antarctic Survey’s Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, 1860km south of the Falkland Islands and 1630km south east of Punta Arenas in Chile.

Since summer 2014 (December) this has handled all the human waste and grey water produced on site with only cleaned water being discharged to sea. Solids from the plant are disposed of through a high efficiency two stage incinerator with residual ash contained and removed from Antarctica by ship (during the summer)

The station is open throughout the year, in the summer the population will peak at just over 100 people. In the winter months, April to mid October, a compliment of around 22 will be continuing the science work and looking after the station infrastructure.

Seil might not require such high specification plants. This is fabricated in stainless steel and the discharge water specification at Seil will be less demanding than for Antarctica. The cubic size and service and standby on all critical items are typical of all specifications.

Designing a waste water scheme, with low footprint plants which can meet discharge water standards anywhere, is a financial balance between building and operating more sewage collecting infrastructure with fewer bigger plants and more smaller decentralised units needing less collecting infrastructure to be built.

Where infrastructure and waste water processing sites exist, the options include units upgrading existing processing sites, units replacing pumping stations and units installed at storm water overflows.

If anyone is interested they are welcome to get in touch by any means.

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