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Engineers and divers work through the night to keep water supplies running in the Western Isles

Divers working at Loch Fada in North Uist.
Divers working at Loch Fada in North Uist.

Engineers worked through the night to keep water supplies running in the Western Isles as Scotland’s battle with the big freeze continues.

There has been a lot less snow and temperatures have not dipped quite so sharply in the islands as they have in the rest of the country, but it’s still been severe enough to cause problems at the Lochmaddy water treatment works in North Uist.

The works draw water from Loch Fada and serve around 750 homes and businesses on North Uist, Bernerary and Grimsay.

However, the pipeline and pumps running from the loch have been disrupted by the chilly conditions, forcing Scottish Water to try to find an alternative feed from the loch.

A diver working on Lewis to keep the water supply running as temperatures plunge.

Divers were deployed twice overnight in an effort to keep the temporary intakes clear of ice and tankers have also been used to supplement stored drinking water as much as possible.

Scottish Water is warning customers in the Western Isles that some are expected to lose water supply altogether and others will be experiencing lower than normal water pressure today.

A spokesman for the company said: “We have been working hard at Lochmaddy and a number of our other sites across the Western Isles to maintain normal service for customers in challenging conditions over recent days.

A tanker storing drinking water at Lochmaddy water treatment works.

“At Lochmaddy, our efforts overnight have not yet succeeded in returning the water treatment works to normal operation and we are therefore initiating plans to provide alternative water supplies for customers.

“Our team will initially be working to ensure customers who may be vulnerable without drinking water will receive an alternative bottled water supply, drawing upon our priority service register and the support of our partner agencies.

“We would ask customers to bear with us and to use their water with care while we continue working to sustain supplies and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

Bottled water is also being brought to the islands and will be handed out to all affected customers later this morning if normal supplies are not restored.

Scottish Water will also be providing updates to the situation on their website.

The coldest night in 25 years

Weather forecasts suggest much of the country is in for a few more cold days but what the Met Office describes as “more normal conditions” are on their way next week.

It’s a welcome relief for many after Scotland experienced its coldest temperature in decades on Wednesday morning.

Braemar dipped to -23C, the coldest recording since the same location reached -27.2C  on December 30, 1995.

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