Water quality in Moray and the islands will be improved as part of a £3.5billion upgrade by Scottish Water.
A six-year programme, backed by £720million borrowed from the Scottish Government, will support 5,000 construction jobs and protect the environment, according to the state-owned utility company.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed that water charges would not increase by more than the rate of inflation. An exemption scheme will be extended to more of the charitable sector to help pay for their water and sewerage services.
Details of the six-year programme, due to start in 2015, are still being worked up. However, elements that have been revealed include drinking water improvements at Glenlatterach, Moray (£5.6million), Fair Isles (£4.9milion) and South Uist (£6.8million).
Ms Sturgeon said: “Water and sewerage services are vital to our everyday lives. It is important that we continue to invest to ensure that these keep on meeting the needs of customers, the environment and economic development.
“I recognise that households and businesses are under financial pressure. That is why I expect Scottish Water to continue to deliver this £3.5billion investment programme without the need for inflation-busting charge increases.”
The government will be making up to £720million available to support the programme and extending help to charities, she said.
“This government is determined to ensure that Scottish Water continues to be a public sector success story. This programme is good news for customers, the construction industry and our environment.”
Douglas Millican, Scottish Water chief executive, said: “I am delighted that we are announcing the start of this major investment programme which will enable Scottish Water to continue to provide first-class customer service while supporting the Scottish economy and creating jobs in the construction industry.”