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Chamber and committees

Question reference: S6W-16184

  • Asked by: Alexander Burnett, MSP for Aberdeenshire West, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Date lodged: 27 March 2023
  • Current status: Answered by Mairi McAllan on 11 April 2023


To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with Scottish Water regarding any potential (a) presence and (b) impact of pharmaceuticals in water.


The Scottish Government is in regular contact with Scottish Water on these matters. In partnership with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Scottish Water is carrying out the Chemical Investigation Programme (CIP) Scotland which involves sampling for priority substances of emerging concern. Pharmaceuticals are considered to be contaminants of emerging concern, and monitoring and assessing the risk to the water environment for many such substances is still in the development phase. Following action on source control for a range of pharmaceuticals agreed with SEPA under the second phase of the CIP, the third phase of the research sees further sampling and process optimisation trials at Wastewater Treatment Works that aims to help improve our understanding of whether better treatment can achieved at Scottish Water’s assets. In terms of drinking water, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator monitors Scottish Water’s performance. Regulation 4 of the Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2014 as amended requires Scottish Water to ensure drinking water does not contain any substance at a concentration that could constitute a danger to human health.

Scottish Water is also a member of the One Health Breakthrough Partnership (OHBP), which is funded by the Scottish Government and brings together key stakeholders across the water, environment, and healthcare sectors who are committed to addressing pharmaceutical pollution in the environment through source control.