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The Scottish Government recognises the importance of achieving high standards of drinking water quality. In the period 2015 to 2021, Scottish Water has been directed to make improvements to Scotland’s drinking water at a cost of in excess of £500 million. Compliance with drinking water standards is assessed by the drinking water quality regulator for Scotland. In her 2015 annual report, she reported that, at 99.92 per cent, Scottish Water had delivered record levels of compliance with legislative standards.
Is the cabinet secretary aware that Scottish environment statistics that were published recently show that the number of rivers and lochs that were categorised as having poor water quality has increased by 17 per cent since 2011? Will the Scottish Government take more affirmative action to mitigate that problem and to help to prevent the potential impact on riparian wildlife?
Scottish Water constantly keeps a watching eye on water quality. That is extremely important, whether we are talking about lochs, bathing water or drinking water.
A number of treatments are under way that will help in that regard. If the member wishes to raise any specific concerns, I invite him to do so, either through me or directly with Scottish Water.
The cabinet secretary will be well aware that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage work closely with the whisky industry to ensure the highest possible quality of water for climate change and export market purposes. Will the cabinet secretary join me in praising the collaborative work of Diageo and the environmental agencies in creating a new state-of-the-art closed-loop distillery condenser at the new Roseisle facility on Speyside?
It certainly sounds like something I would very much want to commend. I thank the member for raising the issue because, having been at its recent launch, I am aware that the Scottish whisky industry is moving strongly on environmental concerns and has launched an environmental strategy of its own. That is welcome because, after all, Scotch whisky is sold on to the international market on an image of clean water in a beautiful environment. When products are sold from Scotland in that way, it is important that the industries that are involved in the production of those products realise that they have a responsibility for that environment, too.