Historically the Water of Leith was Edinburgh’s sewage disposal route and as a consequence the cities main sewer still runs alongside or even under the river. This means the CSO or combined sewer overflow network uses the river to vent sewage and surface water in very wet conditions, went the main sewer cannot cope with the load. Screens are fitted to the CSO to prevent the nasties we should not be putting down our toilets (wipes, sanitary pads, tampons, cotton buds, fat etc) going into the river, if these screens become blocked sewage can end us in the river even in dry conditions. Problems also occur when surface water and foul drains are not connected properly – usually at the construction phase of new properties. The river has 65 licenced CSO’s and Scottish Water are responsible for their maintenance.
The Leith end always bears the brunt as everything is washed downstream and two ‘foul’ connections have been identified in the area, thanks to diver Explore with Shane who has discovered the sewage seeping into the river along with many many things which should not be in a river, during his recent explorations of the basin areas.
You can also follow the sewage stories on Friends of the Water of Leith Basins Facebook Page and their sewage in the basins video playlist.
The effect of the sewage leaks on the Water of Leith was discussed at the CEC council meeting on 17th September –CLICK ON ME to see the papers of the meeting.
Scottish Water has recently begun a huge project to upgrade the CSO network in the upper catchment of the river from Balerno to Slateford. More details of this project will follow in our next blog