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Iain MacDonald reports
"On the face of it, water is something that shouldn't cost much in the Highlands"
 real 28k

BBC Scotland's Colin MacKinnon reports
"Farmers outside Rothesay have been the worst affected"
 real 56k

Friday, 28 July, 2000, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Tanker aid for drought-hit isle
Tiree is well-known to windsurfers
A water tanker has been sent to a tiny island off the west coast of Scotland which has been hit by a drought.

Tiree is part of the inner Hebrides and is a haven for windsurfers because of conditions coming in from the Atlantic Ocean.

The tanker, containing 35,000 litres of water, was taken to the island by ferry. The same amount will be sent by sea on Saturday.

West of Scotland Water (WSW), whose area includes 30sq. mile Tiree, blames dry weather and high consumption by tourists.

The company is also monitoring the situation on the nearby island of Coll, where locals are having to travel to Oban for water.

Some islanders say it is the worst drought in 20 years but WSW says despite 13 weeks with almost no rain, Coll still has about 50 days to go before supplies dry up.

Pipeline problem

In another area, West of Scotland Water is being accused of wasting 1.3m of public money on a new pipeline.

The system was installed to replace supplies to the village of Colintraive, which was previously fed by a local loch.

But the pipeline has affected the pressure of supplies to homes on the island of Bute. The new system has been shut down and Colintraive has reverted to the original supply.

West of Scotland Water says it will be up and running within days after "operational difficulties" have been resolved.

But people in Colintraive described the pipeline as a "huge mistake" and a waste of money.

'Lion's den'

Meanwhile, the man who represents water customers in the north of Scotland has been warned he will be walking into a "lion's den" when he speaks at a public meeting.

Alan Sutherland was appointed as the country's first water industry commissioner last year.

One of his first actions was to recommend a large increase in charges to customers, with people in the north of Scotland suffering the biggest rise of more than 43%.

Mr Sutherland will face the public in Inverness on Friday night to explain why he backed the unpopular price hike.

Boy playing football on beach
European standards for beaches must be met
The meeting has been organised by Tory list MSP for the Highlands and Islands, Mary Scanlon. She believes the commissioner will be walking into a "lion's den".

Scottish Environment Minister, Sarah Boyack, announced the rise in charges at the beginning of the year.

She said at the time that they were particularly necessary in the north of the country because of the higher cost of providing water services in remote areas.

Ms Boyack added that the increase for the average customer represented 60p per week.

Under European regulations, the water industry in Scotland needs 1bn of improvements.

Mr Sutherland and North of Scotland Water Authority insisted there was no other choice but to impose the increases.

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See also:

28 Jul 00 | Scotland
EU action over dirty beaches
08 Mar 00 | Scotland
Water bills soar
08 Mar 00 | Scotland
New water charges in full
10 Mar 00 | Scotland
Council tax figures in full
26 Jan 00 | Scotland
Water charges on the rise
26 Jan 00 | Scotland
Consumers to foot 1bn water bill
21 Jan 00 | Scotland
Utilities bill brings price cuts
10 Nov 99 | Scotland
McConnell under water pressure
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