A £37million flood defence scheme for a Moray town is ready to be taken over by the authority.
The Forres and Pilmuir scheme safeguards about 1,000 properties from being flooded by the River Findhorn and the Mosset Burn.
Construction on the project was completed about 18 months ago, and now Moray Council is ready to take responsibility for the defences by sub-contracting a firm to run them.
A £1.58million contract was advertised for specialists to bid to operate and maintain the Pilmuir pump station for the next four years.
And yesterday, London-based waste and water specialists Veolia was announced as the successful bidder.
Forres councillor George Alexander, who chaired the council’s flood alleviation sub-committee, explained the major benefits of the defences will remain unseen.
He said: “There are a massive number of properties that will be relying on this now. It’s the whole of the Greshop industrial estate and huge swathes of the town.
“It’s going to be one of those things that we don’t really appreciate the benefit of, when it was getting built a lot of people thought it was a house. It’s been designed for a one in 200-year flood, which is something I hope we never see.
“It’s an extremely clever piece of equipment and it has got a fascinating box of tricks to keep the water flowing.”
Veolia will carry out planned maintenance on the pumping station as well as emergency works instructed by the council.
Engineers from the firm will also be responsible for responding to alarms set off by if the water levels begin to rise to dangerously-high levels.
The Pilmuir pumping station directs surface water towards the river. Flaps will close if the levels in the Findhorn is high with the water instead being backed-up in a new drainage channel.
The flood defences in Forres, as well as the larger £83million scheme in Elgin, have already passed tests of heavy rain since they were completed.
Yesterday a spokesman for Moray Council confirmed the authority was now going to be responsible for the defences following their construction.