Esk River Improvement Group Meeting
Minutes of Meeting – 10am, Monday 9th January 2023, Microsoft Teams
Attendance: Douglas Lyons, Colin Beattie MSP, Jenny Gray, Moira Cartwright (Midlothian Council), Nick Aitken (East Lothian Council), Ann Stewart-Kmicha (Dalkeith & District Community Council), Anne Hyatt (Roslin and Bilston Community Council), Steven Boon (Scottish Water), Scott Fraser (Scottish Water), Claire Tochel (Fisherrow Harbour & Seafront Association), Pauline Crerar (Fisherrow Harbour & Seafront Association), Rachael Langfield (Coal Authority), Ross Hughes (Forth Rivers Trust), Rebecca Lewis (Riverfly on the Esk/Buglife), Chris Gall (SEPA), Peter Finnie (SEPA), Paul Butler (SEPA), Joy Godfrey (ENCC), Conor Price (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Rachel Warrington (Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme), Caroline Freeman (Newbattle Abbey College)
Apologies Shona Grant (East Lothian Council), Audrey Murray (EnjoyLeisure), Philip Duncan (Musselburgh Racecourse) David Ogilvie (SEPA)
CB welcomed everyone to the meeting and the previous minutes were approved.
1. Scottish Water – Steven Boon and Scott Fraser
CB asked about the flooding at Lasswade and the mains burst at Bonnyrigg/Rosewell.
SF reported that on 1 January there was a burst 12-inch water main on Carnethie Street, Rosewell, approximately 1000 properties experienced no water or water discolouration. Tankers were brought in to supply water to the network. All supplies restored by 5pm on 1 January.
SF detailed the challenges Scottish Water faced from the sub-zero weather in December 2022. This had a severe impact on many assets. Very cold conditions led to a very challenging environment for working on frozen service pipes. The rapid thaw then had a major impact on the water network across the whole country. This impact was seen on both the public supply and the private supply (within homes and businesses). Treatment works were then coping with a massive increase in supply due to leaks and burst pipes. Field operations and customer services were extremely busy. Then this was followed on by flooding from heavy rain at the end of December.
SB described what happened to the wastewater treatment works during the extreme weather. The deep freeze slowed down the flow of water through the filter beds, slowing or stopping a lot of the bacterial treatment, inhibiting treatment of wastewater. Then the thaw caused further difficulty. The dead bugs that died during the freeze caused issues with the waste treatment and then there was increases in flows from the thaw. Further, this was made worse by the heavy rain that followed. And the treatment works then experienced significant flooding. In the Esk the CSO’s would have been operating. Due to the scale of the flows, some CSO’s were broken, the screens bent or the motors became flooded. Scottish Water have contractors mobilised to recover treatment works and CSO’s.
SB was on site at Lord Ancrum Woods and reported that the site looks quite good. SB commented that the assets had performed well during the severe weather and that they are currently in a place where they are recovering the assets that were impacted by the weather.
RLe asked which treatment plants were impacted along the Esk
SB replied that there are not many wastewater treatment assets along the Esk. SB added that it was not a particular problem in this area and no assets entered into a failing situation.
SF noted that Scottish Water have been impacted by weather more often than normal. The whole industry is having to adapt to how they cope with the impact of extreme weather.
CB added that we are seeing the results of climate change and it will be a big adjustment for the utilities as to how they adapt to that.
CB asked about the Lasswade flooding on 30 December 2022. SF offered to come back to the group on that.
CB asked for an update on the Eastfield Pumping Station works.
SB replied that there was no significant update from last meeting. Eastfield was not impacted by the recent high flows during the bad weather. Upgraded pipework and clean out plans will continue as before prior to bathing season. Other work will happen during bathing season. No exact date for the further work as yet, but SB will pass on this information once they have it.
ASK thanked SB for circulating the CSO maps.
2. Forth Rivers Trust – Ross Hughes
RH updated the group that their ‘Outfall Safari’ is coming to a conclusion. Volunteers have surveyed outfall sites from the river mouth to 15 km up the river Esk. On a preliminary review of results RH reports that he is not seeing any major issues with pipes, adding that volunteers are keen to do more surveys in the future.
RH added that they are shortly looking to do more community presentations
RH reports that they are trying to organise a visit in March to a mine water treatment facility, run by The Coal Authority. RH adds that he would be aiming to send out an invitation to ERIG members to join this site visit.
CB asked what they plan to do with the data when the survey of the outfall pipes is complete. CB emphasised that it is important, due to the effort that has been made, that the gathered information should be of use to a number of organisations. Adding that we should have a think where the best place is to hold the data so that everyone gets a chance to view the results.
RH answered that they will make that data publicly available. They have similar data on projects on other rivers on their website. RH added if people are interested in any particular aspects of the survey, then please get in touch with him.
CB added that when the work is complete, he could also post the data on his website.
CG emphasised that if anything is found during the survey (contamination or sewage), to report this to SEPA and they can attend to that. Adding that it will be good to see the whole body of the work and what they can take form it.
3. Riverfly on the Esk/Buglife - Rebecca Lewis (RLe)
RLe provided an update to the group.
4. Coal Authority - Rachael Langfield (RL)
RL provided an update to the ERIG on the Dalkeith Water Treatment Plant.
CB asked if a Letter of Support from Community Councils would be still helpful.
RL added that it is up to The Coal Authority to give BEIS an accurate business case and that all support is gratefully received.
ASK added that the community is feeling neglected as it is over a year since communication has been received by residents.
ASK commented that there should be some heat energy available from the mine water discharge in Dalkeith. ASK referred to research by Strathclyde and Glasgow University about heat potential from this mine water discharge and also that The Coal Authority is co-hosting a conference with the British Geological Society on mine water energy. ASK asked for some information about this.
ASK added that she has seen no information about people have gaining unauthorised access to number 41.
RL explained that the mine water heat recovery has been considered and it cannot be considered due to the footprint of the site and that this is the best location for the treatment works. Added that there are ongoing conversations looking at other sites in that area. RL will pass on her comments to the Innovation Team. RL explained that in the meantime the mine water still needs treated and The Coal Authority has to deal with the discharges.
RL added that that she has a request in to deal with the phone numbers that were provided on signage that was moved in a previous meeting.
CB commented that he would not want anything to happen that delayed the current application that is being progressed adding that the current pollution has a huge impact on the River Esk.
PB added that mine water heat is something that is being progressed passionately by the Coal Authority and others. Commenting that he is sure that it will play a future role in Dalkeith and across Scotland, but he would not want to see the water treatment scheme being held up, which is the key issue.
JG added that she will take it to the ENCC suggesting that they send a Letter of Support that BEIS fully fund the project.
CB added that letters would lend more weight if letters came from community groups rather than individuals and they can be used in the Business Case of The Coal Authority.
RL confirmed that she will feedback to DL the appropriate people who she thinks who the Letter of Support should be sent to and then he will share this information with the community groups.
ASK added that she is also waiting on information about what to include in a Letter of Support and who to send it to.
5. SEPA – Chris Gall
CG provided an update on the fish barrier work on the river Esk. Successful integrity surveys took place at the end of December on all three weirs (Montague Bridge and Ironmills on the North Esk. Dalkeith Weir on South Esk). The result of this work is expected in early February at which point results will be analysed and shared with landowners and used to inform the next stage of the process. Preparation and the concept design contracts will run through Summer 2023.
CT asked if the community meetings with SEPA will be reinstated.
PF Confirmed that he has discussed with Ruth Stidson and that he will get back within the next couple of weeks what the progress will be on the Fisherrow community meetings.
With regard to the ongoing pollution investigation in Musselburgh, CG confirmed that it is still an active investigation, so no further update. But he assured the group that work was ongoing on the incident.
ASK highlighted concerns about damage from the high rainfall to the Ironmills and Newmills weirs and if that the survey was done before or after the heavy rainfall. CG added that he would feed this back to the group that managed the survey work.
RLe wondered if there are any planned works to clear debris from the weir and viaduct. CP added that it is the responsibility of the owner of the weir (for clearing a blockage). But if it was to become a matter of public health it the local council may take a degree of responsibility.
6. East Lothian Council - Shona Grant
7. Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme – Conor Price
Updated the group with use of a PowerPoint presentation. To be included as the record for the purpose of the minutes.
CP’s presentation updated ERIG on the MFPS, the weather event on 30 December 2022 and Invasive Species Steering Group.
8. Midlothian Council - Moira Cartwright
MC informs that the Environmental Crime Scheme is with their legal team and she is hopeful that there will be something forthcoming for the next meeting.
CB asked about the Lasswade flood. MC was unaware of the issues.
CB mentioned that there were previous discussions with Midlothian Council (Derek Oliver) about Midlothian Council putting together some flood risk analysis. MC will take that away as an action to find out more and will get back to the group.
ASK highlighted Twitter footage that shows the high-water levels at Lasswade.
Meeting ends 1115am
7. Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme – Conor Price
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