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Engineer's simple cure for cholera

THE BRILLIANCE of Victorian engineer John Frederic Bateman, who built the original system in the 1850s, was such that it remains in use today.

Outbreaks of cholera in 1832 and 1848 killing thousands of Glaswegians led to the city fathers seeking a clean water supply for the city, choosing Loch Katrine for the purity of its supply. In a magnificent feat of engineering, 3,000 men built an aqueduct to bring the supply the 26 miles to a water treatment works at Milngavie.

The water flows at a gradient of one foot per mile, a testimony to the precision of the original engineers, before flowing into two reservoirs ? Mugdock and Craigmaddie ? built in 1853 and 1859 beside the treatment works at Milngavie.

'Glasgow is still relying on the Victorian designed system, ' says Gus Watt, Katrine Water project manager for Scottish Water.

'The only updating done really by the old Strathclyde Regional Council was the installation of chlorination in the 1960s.

'But the work being done now is needed to meet modern water quality standards ? the overriding objective being the Drinking Water (Quality) Scotland Act 1983.' This will rid the water of microorganisms such as bacteria and cryptosporidium parasites, and disinfectant by-products.

While the water industry in England and Wales was privatised in the Thatcher years, Scotland's has remained in public hands, now under the umbrella of Scottish Water, established in 2002.