News from a Scottish Water apprentice on Arran

On Arran, I’m a Modern Apprentice with Many Hats – says Ian McAdam

Multi-tasking is the number one skill when it comes to being a member of the water operations team on Arran.

I’m a multi-functional Modern Apprentice with Scottish Water and I’ve been working on the island for about five months now. I had to go home to the mainland during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, so I’m very glad to be back now.

My job involves maintaining the water and wastewater networks on Arran, attending the various treatment works, service reservoirs, sewage pumping stations and septic tanks – as well as solving issues for customers.

Providing these vital water services on an island comes with its own challenges and water efficiency is a top priority. Many people don’t think about the costs and resources needed to get the water to their tap, and take away and treat their waste water.
We’ve recently launched a campaign to help communities on Arran save water and I’ve really enjoyed doing my bit to encourage people to make some simple changes to how they can use less water in and around their homes and gardens.

We’re working with local environmental group Arran Eco-Savvy and Home Energy Scotland, giving out packs with water saving devices people can use.

In summer, Arran can sometimes triple its population from around 5,000 to 15,000 and these tourism spikes mean a much higher demand to keep the water running smoothly, and ensure everyone is getting water to their properties. We also face a range of customer issues, requests and questions which we work to answer and resolve.

The multi-functional aspect of the job includes responding to any problems with our network and fixing them as soon as we can.
Every day, we must visit our three treatment works/membrane plants in Balmichael, Corrie and Lochranza, to visually check everything is running smoothly and responding to anything that needs fixed. We need to constantly keep all our information updated so we know what’s been done or what needs to be done.

We also look after 10 service reservoirs, three borehole sites and two burn intakes on the island, as well as helping contractors at our treatment works.

And that’s just the water services! On the waste water side, we’ve got 10 sewage pumping stations, three main septic tanks, and a cluster of smaller public septic tanks to look after too.

The secret is always to try and think one step ahead. So that while you’re out fixing a burst, you’ll have one eye on what needs doing next.

This is my first job and it’s been a big challenge making the big jump from school to work, but I’m really enjoying learning new skills and getting used to having a working life.

Working with Scottish Water is really rewarding, especially on an island, as you get to know lots of people personally and you can see you’re helping to make a difference in their daily lives. Suffice to say there’s never a dull moment!

To order your FREE water saving pack, call Home Energy Scotland’s trained advisors on 0808 808 2282 and receive tailored advice to help you save water, energy and money at home.

You can also order your pack and find out more about saving water on Arran here

Many thanks to Ian at Scottish Water for sharing this enlightening blog with us! It is great to learn about all the work that goes on to ensure we get fresh water in our taps. Thank you!

The view from the Scottish Water office. Photo credit to Mark Bunyan, Scottish Water Operator on Arran.

Featured image shows the author Ian McAdam, Arran’s Scottish Water apprentice.