The reservoir responsible for supplying drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people across Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Backwater Reservoir, in Glen Isla in north-west Angus, was officially opened on October 9 1969 by Queen Elizabeth II, following a short speech and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
It was created over a number of years by the construction of an earth dam measuring 42.6 metres in height and 570m in length, and holds more than 24 million cubic metres of water when full – the equivalent of around 9,600 Olympic size swimming pools.
Together with the smaller Lintrathen reservoir a couple of miles to the south, it is capable of supplying some 300,000 people with drinking water.
Scottish Water corporate affairs manager Gavin Steel said: “Plans for the reservoir were initiated by Dundee Corporation and carried through to completion by the newly created East of Scotland Water Board in response to an increased demand for water in Dundee and the surrounding area.
“Once the dam was created, it took around nine months for the reservoir to fill, before it came into supply and since then, it has continued to be a vital asset for the region – providing clean, fresh, great tasting water to thousands of people, as well as offering a great area for recreational activities and wildlife, which is enjoyed by many.”
Treatment operator Fraser Miller was present at the official opening as a six-year-old, before going on to spend 32 years looking after the reservoir through roles with Tayside Regional Council, the North of Scotland Water Authority and now Scottish Water.
Looking back to the Royal day in 1969, he said: “It’s a bit vague, but I remember the buses dropped you off at the end of the road and you were ferried up here in little minibuses.
“You sat in the grandstand over the back and watched the Queen unveil the plaque and then push the button which miraculously started the valve – that was really a highlight for all the wee boys and girls.
“The one thing I really do remember was that it was an absolutely freezing cold day sitting in that grandstand. The kids were really excited but I’m not sure if that was because of the dam opening or because it was a day off school.
He added: “Without a doubt, if the reservoir wasn’t here there would be major problems.
“I heard a story that when it was built, everybody laughed at the boy that decided to build it – they said it would never be needed but it’s been proven it’s a must as Lintrathen could never cope with the current demand. It makes you proud to think that you’re looking after a prime asset for Scottish Water.”