Households across Scotland are facing a 4.2% increase in water charges as Scottish Water looks to invest in their assets they say were “never designed” for extreme weather we now see.
In the organisation’s annual report for 2021/22, published this week, chief executive Douglas Millican said it would be “wrong” to treat last year’s extreme weather such as Storm Arwen, which impacted areas of north east Scotland, as “exceptional”.
Mr Millican, who is set to step down as chief executive of the body after 10 years, said weather events that used to happen once in every 30 or 50 years are happening “much more frequently”.
He added: “Our teams work exceptionally hard to cope with the impact of the changing weather while maintaining vital services.
“Looking ahead, with each significant storm or extended dry period it is becoming more apparent just how much we need to invest in and improve our assets, some of which are many decades old, to ensure our customers’ receive the high quality services they expect.”
“If we are to replace our ageing assets and keep pace with the impacts of climate change, higher levels of investment in our water and waste water assets are vital.”
Customers will face a 4.5% increase to water bills this year which works out an average of £16 per year for those living in band C properties.
Scottish Water said last year was their most challenging and extreme weather impacted their ability to deliver services across Scotland.
Last year saw the tail end of a very cold winter, dry spring and summer and then a “deluge” of rainstorms with November 2021 bringing Storm Arwen.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The increase in water charges come at a time when households all over Scotland are struggling to put food on the table and Scottish Water are sitting on half a billion pounds of reserves and handing out eye-watering bonuses to executives.
“Of course we need to futureproof our infrastructure, but that shouldn’t be done off the backs of those who are trying to cope with the worst cost-of-living crisis in recent memory.
“These rip-off price hikes have piled pressure on to households when they need it least, leaving them to make impossible choices.
“The buck for this stops with SNP ministers, who made the shameful decision to nod these increases through. This is before next year’s expected rises when Scottish Water are expected to double the increase. The SNP must give a commitment to cancelling those rises now.
“Once again the SNP have the power to fix the problem but their rhetoric on the cost of living crisis has proven to be nothing more than empty words.”