The impetus to the water project came in late 2017 when Turnberry Homes submitted a planning application to develop the site of the former Struthers lemonade factory in Lochwinnoch for housing, which has since been granted. Although the factory closed in 2006, water is still being taken from the existing borehole on the site and is sold to Eden Springs Bottling Company and is mainly used for supply to commercial water coolers. Turnberry Homes propose to discontinue the borehole and a number of Lochwinnoch residents decided to investigate the possibility of taking over the borehole as a community asset and formed a group known as Struthers Water Action Group (SWAG). This group operates within the umbrella of LCDT.
After taking legal advice, it was decided not to attempt to utilise the existing borehole as ownership of the water would have rested with owners of the houses constructed on the site, which would have presented complex legal difficulties as well as problems in obtaining the necessary servitudes etc for the laying of pipes and access for maintenance. It was decided instead seek permission to drill a new borehole on an adjacent site, which would tap into the same aquifer. We are considering several sites.
We have commissioned a geological survey which indicates that these sites are likely to produce water of a similar quantity and quality as the existing borehole. We have had discussions with Eden Springs who have indicated their willingness to cooperate with the group and have suggested some possible contractual arrangements. We are also carrying out a commercial business study and recently received a report from Community Enterprise on our structure and possible financing models, both of which will be available to the consultant.