Recent pollution on the South Esk by Newbattle

Following reports on social media starting on Monday (Aug 3) of pollution on the South Esk apparently originating above Newbattle, Scott Fraser, Corporate Affairs Regional Manager with Scottish Water has today (Wed Aug 5) sent out this email:

I’m contacting you regarding reports on social media of pollution in the River South Esk this week.

Scottish Water were made aware of reports of white discoloured water in the River Esk around midday on Tues 4th Aug. We visited the area – Newbattle Bridge, near Newtongrange – immediately and checked an outfall and watercourse but found that the discharge had stopped and there were no signs of discolouration.

We identified the outfall from the photographs shared on social media. We believe the discharge was from culvert which is not a Scottish Water outfall. Our trade effluent team are making further checks and reported the issue to SEPA. We have also taken water samples for analysis.

We don’t know the source of pollution however from the photographs online it looks like it’s possibly paint which has been unfortunately poured into a drain or watercourse. However, I stress this is just based on the photographs we’ve seen.

We would urge anyone who notices issues like this in rivers or burns to contact Scottish Water directly when they see it, either via free phone 0800 0778778 or help@scottishwater.co.uk, so we can investigate as quickly as possible.

I have highlighted above the ways Scottish Water can be contacted, as we understand that the first reports of this were on social media on Monday but we weren’t made aware until Tuesday.

We are also aware of reports of further sewer related debris (wet wipes and sanitary products) from a CSO outfall in the Benbught Burn. We are arranging contractors to revisit this area to carry out a further clean-up.  

The point being made here is that when someone notices an incident then they should report it to Scottish Water without delay. Alerting people on Social Media is all very well, but it took a day for someone to report this to Scottish Water, by which time the discolouration had dispersed, so it may be more difficult to say what the contaminant was and where it came from.
A second point is that this seems to be a private culvert, not one belonging to Scottish Water, and they and SEPA will now investigate where it originates and take action if needed.