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Scottish Water's Cowdenbeath wetland project completed

Scottish Water's £8.7M environmental wetland project in Cowdenbeath is now complete with the company saying it promises to be an innovative stormwater treatment method. The project was designed and delivered by reed bed specialist ARM Reed Beds in partnership with Barhale Construction.

The wetland system can treat 230,000 cubic metres a yearThe wetland system can treat 230,000 cubic metres a year

Located to the south of Cowdenbeath Golf Course and shielded by a row of trees, the new wetland will naturally treat stormwaters from two separate overflow streams and then pass the treated water into the Lochgelly Burn. In time the wetland will become a mini eco system and add to the diversity of wildlife in the area.

The Cowdenbeath area is serviced by a combined sewer network that connects to the Cowdenbeath Wastewater Pumping Station (WwPS) and storm tanks before being transported for treatment at the Levenmouth Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) further downstream.

Several Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) exist within the network and two of these were the focus of this overflow treatment project, namely Selkirk Avenue CSO and Cowdenbeath WWPS CSO. The improved discharge quality at these overflows is part of a larger programme that aims to improve the water quality in a number of watercourses in the Cowdenbeath area, in particular the Lochgelly Burn.

The Lochgelly Burn is the main watercourse in Cowdenbeath and flows to Loch Gelly, which is considered to be a sensitive waterbody. Previously, in times of heavy rainfall, the excess wastewater was passed through a screened outlet directly into the burn which the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) classified as Class D - seriously polluted under their River Classifications Scheme. 

The project will allow this excess wastewater to be stored and treated to a significantly higher standard before allowing it to flow back into the natural environment.  SEPA’s aspirations are that the standard is raised to classification A2 over time - this project will play a key part in that process.

Eddie Burns, project manager at Scottish Water, said: “The sewer overflows at two locations – the Cowdenbeath stormwater works near Cowdenbeath Golf Course, and Selkirk Avenue – needed to be upgraded so they could continue to comply with modern environmental specifications. We are committed to finding the best solution for the local environment, and diverting the sewer overflows to a natural wastewater treatment system proved to be the preferred option.

“Our solution is actually three separate projects. The first is to construct the wetland, another project to install a screen and a 1.2km transfer sewer from Selkirk Avenue. And finally we have upgraded the pumping stations and storm tanks near the wetland which previously transferred the stormwaters."

The project involved the construction of a specialised wetland and reed bed system that removes solids and forces oxygen into the waters, thus enabling it to reach a standard where it meets SEPA requirements for Scottish Water to pass the flows into the Lochgelly burn.

Burns said: “The result is a sustainable, low-carbon answer to a complex wastewater management issue. The wetland is flexible in that we can alter how it treats the water depending on the flow, so in times of high flow the complex aeration system kicks in but otherwise it remains off and saves energy.

“The system ARM has designed is both cost-effective and in line with how we want to treat waste water in the future.  Once complete, the wetland system will require little maintenance, saving costs year-on-year which will benefit everyone.”

The wetland system can treat 230,000m3 a year, the equivalent of around 100 Olympic swimming pools. The wastewater comes from around 11,000 customers in the Cowdenbeath area. 

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