From Strathclyde Park to Banff in Canada!

They say from tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow – little did we think how true that would be when we answered a call from a large civil engineering company in March 2013.  They were looking for some temporary Silt Curtains for use in Strathclyde Loch during the construction of a dividing wall, to separate off the proposed Triathlon Site for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Strathclyde Park in 2014, before Silt Curtain InstallationTo understand the problems on site, we need to know some background:

Strathclyde Park covers around 4 km², it is ‘wrapped around’ the artificial Strathclyde Loch and is located next to the River Clyde.  When the loch was created in the early 1970s, it involved the flooding of the old mining village of Bothwellhaugh and a ‘landfill’ site.  Therefore traditional partitioning systems such as sheet piling were ruled out, as the man made clay Loch bed could not be penetrated or compromised in any way due to the sites industrial history.

Many major water based sporting events had been held on the Loch over the years: the 1986 Commonwealth Games, the 1996 Junior World Rowing Championships (and the World Rowing Championships for non-Olympic events), the 2005 World Rowing Masters Regatta and the 2006 Commonwealth Rowing Championships.  In 2007 the World Rowing Under 23 Championships were all held within the park, along with the 2005 Glasgow Special Olympics and the 2006 Scottish Triathlon Championships.

However, more than 50 people were taken ill at the venue after The 2012 Great Scottish Swim, an open water swimming event. Many of the participants suffered sickness following the race, that attracted entrants from across Scotland.  Fifty-seven of the seventy entrants became ill, suffering from gastroenteritis, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea with some testing positive for norovirus.

Many other events over the years have needed to be cancelled due to poor water quality issues. The Loch is fed solely by the South Calder before ‘over spilling’ into the Clyde.  In times of high rainfall an upstream Scottish Water Treatment Works (WTW) discharges contaminated water containing high levels of, among other bacterium, Escherichia coli (also called E. coli). Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) can also be an issue during the summer months due to the Lochs high phosphate levels.

The threat of E. coli contamination and seasonal algae blooms during the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the Triathlon site prompted the need for a solution to be found. The Loch was one of few venues with the infrastructure to cope with such a prestigious event and thus was the preferred venue for the swimming leg of the triathlon at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games… but what about the water quality?

After much deliberation, the solid partition option was dismissed largely due to its huge price tag.

Installation of Biological Barrier in Glasgow ITUAquatic Engineering were then approached directly by the clients consulting engineers to design a much more cost effective temporary system. Could a flexible temporary structure effectively contain biological contamination on such a large-scale installation? A number of site meetings followed which culminated in a SLR Consulting / Aquatic Engineering partnership, their conclusion was yes it was a possible concept. So, following the project going out to tender, Aquatic Engineering were selected as the preferred main contractor in August 2013. A system was jointly designed and approved, the fabrication of 5 x 6m deep Biological Barriers totalling over 1.2km in length could then get underway.

Aquatic Engineering’s recently acquired 6000ft2 modern fabrication unit allowed each Silt Curtain to be welded in one piece, for both strength and guaranteed impermeability.

Digger assisting with Strathclyde Biological Barrier InstallationBy working in partnership with the incredible Strathclyde Park Team and Phoslock, the right solution was found and installed. Yes, there were some difficulties, from which we all learnt… but the conclusion was a successful Games with water quality being well within the International Triathlon Union (ITU) guidelines.

The ITU is the world governing body for the sport of Triathlon and its related other Multisports. ITU is a non-profit-making organisation founded in 1989 with headquarters in Switzerland. Its mission is to promote the sport of Triathlon, Paratriathlon and its related Multisports and disciplines worldwide, as recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The ITU has set down strict water quality guidelines for the swimming aspect of any Triathlon event – the safety and welfare of all participants is paramount.

Because of the above, on the 18th February 2016 Aquatic Engineering began and email chain with Dr Mike Wilde – Sport Event Consulting, which started:

“We are organising the ITU Triathlon World Championships in Rotterdam this year (2016) and the ITU Grand Final next year (2017). The water quality tests we’ve made within the last 15 month show that the concentration of E.coli bacteria is going up and down but is too high at any time. You will find the latest tests and a document which show the history attached.

Do you think that your company could bring the water to the required concentration of E.coli bacteria which is 500 kve/ 100 ml?”

Engineers Inspection in RotterdamOur Senior Technical Consultant flew out to Rotterdam from London City Airport on Thursday 3rd March for a brief meeting with Eva van Groningen from the sports marketing agency TIG Sports, which specialises in creating, innovating and organising major international sporting events. TIG Sports were responsible for bringing together a successful Rotterdam Triathlon Event for both years. The meeting was a success and it seemed likely that a Biological Curtain option would assist the Dutch Organisers to meet water quality standards set out by the ITU for the summer triathlon event.

Following Glyn’s meeting with the 2016 Rio Olympics organisers in Brazil he returned to the UK and flew back out to Rotterdam on the 12th May with his team to assess and survey the site from on the water – staying on the floating hotel, SS Rotterdam, was an added bonus!

A design was formulated from the collected data and discussions with a very knowledgeable Marius Ouden of The Port of Rotterdam Authority, from his crow’s-nest office adjacent to the installation site.

The Silt Curtain was always to be a last line of defence and once fabricated and delivered to site, the Aquatic Engineering team were on standby to assist in its deployment. However, water quality analysis prior to the Event on 23rd July showed that it fell within ITU guidelines.

The unused Silt Curtain was put into storage in readiness for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final 14-17 September 2017 the final event of the World Triathlon Series which will be held in the heart of Rotterdam… very convenient!

Beautiful view from hotel at NALMS Banff 2016 SymposiumLater in November 1–4, Glyn was privileged to represent Aquatic Engineering at the NALMS 2016, The 36th International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society, at Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta, Canada. There he presented the paper: Strathclyde Loch Restoration, Using Biological Barriers, based on the North Lanarkshire Council Report: Strathclyde Loch Restoration – Phase 2. The paper was well received by those in attendance during the Phoslock sessions. Phoslock was an extremely important component in the success of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Triathlon.

Banff In Canada for NALMS, hotelWhilst at NALMS the ITU contacted Glyn to ask if due to the success of the 2014 Triathlon, would he consider presenting the same paper at the first International Triathlon Union (ITU) Event Organisers Conference? With Glyn, the answer is generally yes! So, on 24-26 February 2017 in Budapest, Hungary he attended the conference along with more than 110 representatives from 32 countries across ITU’s endurance, triathlon and multisport organising. The three-day long event was themed around ‘Triathlon events for the next generation of athletes’, and was aimed at endurance, triathlon and multisport organising committees looking to enhance their events.

On his return to the Isle of Wight things came around full circle as Aquatic Engineering had been awarded another contract to provide Biological Barriers to Strathclyde Loch – yes, they are back:

Strathclyde Park Multisport Festival – Saturday 27th May 2017


  • BTF British Sprint Triathlon Championships 2017
  • ETU 2018 European Sprint Triathlon Championships Age Group Qualification Race
  • Strathclyde Park Novice and Super Sprint Triathlon
  • Triathlon Scotland Scottish Team Relay Championships 2017
  • Tristars 2 and Tristars 3 Draft Legal Triathlon – Including Scottish IRC & Hetton Relays Qualifier

Durty Events are delighted to be working with Glasgow Triathlon Club to deliver an exciting festival of multisport at Strathclyde Park – the much-praised venue for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Triathlon.

In additional to the BTF British Sprint Triathlon Championships 2017 (the race itself is open to everyone, whether BTF member or not), Strathclyde Park Multisport Festival will be hosting a Novice race, a qualification race for the ETU 2018 Age Group European Sprint Championships, the Triathlon Scotland Team Relay Championships 2017, and Tristars 2 and Tristars 3 racing.

The Festival will be held on closed roads, and the water quality is assured due to North Lanarkshire Councils deployment of the ‘Commonwealth Games’ Biological Barrier in the loch. See for details.

So, from that initial call Aquatic Engineering are very proud to be part of such an exciting and rapidly growing sport which is no longer an acorn but a mighty oak!

Aquatic Engineering work across the globe supplying aquatic solutions and consultancy.

Call 01983 616668 for specialist advice, or keep up to date with our Aquatic Projects here.