A “fantastic” community scheme - which ensures a clean and safe private water supply to residents and facilities on Papa Westray – will receive grant funding of just under £10,000 from the Council’s Community Development Fund (CDF) to enable enhancements to be carried out.
Members of the CDF sub-committee today, Thursday, gave their overwhelming backing to the Papa Westray Community Council-run scheme.
The island’s Community Council will match fund the project to allow them to improve the monitoring system and distribution of the fresh water supply, installing equipment to reduce the lime content passing through the system, which can be harmful to pipes and appliances that use water. As well as improving the efficiency of the existing system the enhancements will also ensure its ongoing sustainability for the local community.
The residents were consulted on the proposal and responded favourably.
CDF sub-committee member Council Leader James Stockan said: “This is such a fantastic scheme where a community itself has taken the initiative and met a need within their island which is working incredibly well – this really is commendable.”
OIC Development and Infrastructure Chairman Councillor Graham Sinclair said so many take for granted being able to turn a tap on and receive a supply of fresh, clean and safe drinking water.
“This has become such a successful scheme since its inception when a number of the best wells in the island were upgraded and linked together. It was, at first, a service to part of the island which has now expanded really to cover the whole of the island and working with the Council’s Environmental Health Team, to provide a safe service. The enhancements will improve the quality and safety of the supply.
“We must not forget that a sustainable and effective business plan lies behind the Papay water scheme. With the day-to-day normal operating costs and charges, it is absolutely a sustainable model, financially self-sufficient – except for the occasional requirement for assistance for capital improvements.”
The Papa Westray water supply was established in 2000 after the community was advised that Scottish Water had no plans to establish a linked water system on the island. The water supply was set up to develop a more modern supply mechanism and continues to be maintained by Papa Westray Community Council. The supply is stored in a main water tank with several individual tanks located around the island.
At present, the water supply serves 56 households and 11 public/community facilities, including the community Co-op, hostel, kirk and school.
OIC Economic Development Officer, Alister Brown said: “The system has operated successfully over a number of years with the income derived from the sale of water. All water is metered and charged at a price competitive with the public supply in other parts of Orkney. This has enabled the Community Council to employ a part-time water attendant, who lives on the island.
“The private water supply has always been highly appreciated by the islanders not only because of the quality provided but the work that has gone into its establishment back in 2000. By upgrading the system, it will help Papa Westray Community Council maintain the quality and improve the efficiency for the islanders, without passing on any additional costs.
“One of the main aims for Papa Westray is to have more families move to the island, which over time would mean more houses being used or built. By having this technology and filtration systems installed, new residential properties can be linked to the water supply with no disturbances to the current users.”
The scheme last received CDF assistance of nearly £31,500 to carry out an upgrade in 2006 allowing development of the infrastructure to enable more houses to join the system.