Water water everywhere but Harlaw

Those who have been watching the power meter will realise that we are only just generating electricity at the moment.  Match the captions!

  1. Harlaw + Water April 2016
  2. Harlaw – Water November 2018
  3. The ‘beach’ at Threipmuir November 2018
  4. High and dry inlet to the Harlaw Upper Tower
  5. High on the left is the concrete V at the overflow.
  6. Who said the fishing season is over?
  7. Upper Harlaw sans water.

Low water is not only unsightly and poor for electricity generation it also most importantly is dangerous.  Low water exposes parts of the bank which may shelve quickly, as in Harlaw, and exposes very fine and soft silt, as in Threipmuir.  A number of people, walkers and fishermen, have sunk into the soft, muddy silt and needed help to get out.  One person went in to rescue her dog and ended up needing to be rescued by the Fire Brigade.


Doors Open – Saturday 29 and Sunday 30

This weekend is Edinburgh Doors Open weekend and Pentland Regional Park are opening the doors to Harlaw Visitor Centre.  A number of other local organisations will be there too, in particular their will be regular tours of the Harlaw Hydro Powerhouse. We’ll be there 11-00 – 15.00 on both days.

PS   Strong footwear is recommended.

Click here for details of Doors Open, Pentland Regional Park and Harlaw Hydro.


Maintenance Complete

As many will know our first service has been a long time in coming, and has required plenty of patience and stubbornness, but on Monday our turbine received its first service.  The major task is the lifting of the generator and the runner to facilitate a proper inspection; with the help of our new lifting frame this proved to be quite straight forward.  The inspection yielded no nasty surprises with the runner almost as good as new after nearly 3 years of operation.

As you’ll see in the picture of the inspection cover all the brown water coming out of Red Moss and off the hills has left its mark with a fine but thick peaty deposit.  We plan to pressure wash the inside of turbine casing and the lower part of the pipe work to clear this.


The Community Chest

Many will remember that our surplus each year is passed to Balerno Village Trust (BVT) to be used for the benefit of the community.  Coupled with this was a commitment from BVT to initiate a small grant scheme that would be open to organisations not only in Balerno but also in the surrounding area.

The Community Chest, a joint initiative between Currie Balerno Rotary and BVT, is that scheme and it has just announced 8 winners of small grants.  To find out more about the scheme, who has won and how to apply click on BVT Community Trust or Rotary Community Trust.

Steady Progress

Back in the mists of time (last year) the Edinburgh Doors Open event passed off successfully with a healthy number of people interested and taking the trip down to the power house. Balerno Village Trust, Friends of the Pentlands, Youth Vision and Malleny Angling Association all had information and people their answering questions too.

There has been little else to trouble the news pages, work by SPN on the Currie sub-station causes the occasional blip on the grid and therefore on generation and we have had enough water to be generating for several weeks now in the 60s kWh which is not only good for the environment but also for the pocket.

Edinburgh Doors Open

Every year the Cockburn Society organises a ‘Doors Open’ programme giving people a chance to visit interesting buildings and facilities that are not normally open to the public.

This year Harlaw Hydro is joining in, there will be displays, people to talk to and an opportunity, for those with stout footwear and some hill-climbing ability, to visit the powerhouse at the base of the dam.  Also taking part are Friends of the Pentlands, the Malleny Angling Association and the Pentland Regional Park.

Come and join us on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th at Harlaw Visitor Centre EH14 7AS.  For details of Doors Open click.

What’s been happening?

This year we have had a wetter summer than for several years but we are still only generating at a lowly 16kWh.  Some replenishment was needed after the exceptionally dry spring and then there was a blip when the council lowered the level of Threipmuir quickly to enable them to inspect something more closely but we have been in a pretty steady state since.

However the 12 month rolling total is holding up well and careful inspection of trends will show that despite only generating at 16kWh we are generating more than in the other two summers of operation; in 2015 we were sometimes only generating for 10 hours a day.



Rain is apparently on its way but the driest April since records began followed by only sporadic rain in May means there is very little water to share out.  Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs were built to provide compensation flow throughout the summer so to run them down in May seems odd. However regulations as they stand require CEC to provide water flows in the Water of Leith that are not matched by recent rainfall.  CEC in turn requires Harlaw Hydro to let more water out of the reservoir than is coming in.  At the time of writing Harlaw Reservoir is dropping 18 cms a day.

There is still some water and the reservoir is beautiful.  Pictures courtesy of Andrew Clark.