DOUGLAS Millican is a man with a plan.

A six-year plan in fact. And he is very enthusiastic and passionate about it.

The Scottish Water chief executive is wearing a blue polo top with the state-owned utility's slogan, 'Trusted to Serve Scotland.' He has been attending one of three major staff events this week at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow, next to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre, as he nears the end of a nationwide tour.

Mr Millican has not been drawing quite such big audiences as those attracted by Jack and Victor of Still Game during their recent extended run at the nearby Hydro. However, 350 people on each of three days in Glasgow is not a bad crowd.

And there is a bit of humour around the staff event, part of a programme staged every three years, with Scottish Water's finance director Alan Scott and chief operating officer Peter Farrer acting as hosts for a "Have I Got News for You" style event. Employees are invited to guess the blanks in headlines relating to the utility and its activities.

Mr Millican allows himself a wry smile at the swift, and thankfully correct, response from one member of staff when the headline "Trusted to ... Scotland" comes up on the screen. The answer, the hosts declare, is worth 2,000 points.

When Mr Millican sets out the plan for the next six years, which will involve about £500 million of investment per financial year in current prices over the period from 2015 to 2021 or £3.5 billion in total in actual spend when inflation is taken into account, his focus is very clearly on customer service.

He highlights the fact that Scottish Water's six-year plan has been brokered as a deal with domestic and business customers. Mr Millican notes that, in this process, customers were advised about what was reasonable or unreasonable to accept by Scottish Water's economic regulator, the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.

The process involved consideration of what customers desired, in terms of the trade-off between service improvements and prices charged.

Customers made it clear that they did not want Scottish Water to go backwards on any aspect of service. There were also a "bunch of areas," Mr Millican notes, where customers wanted to see improvement.

However, customers wanted prices for water and sewerage services to fall in real terms, adjusting for inflation.

Drinking water quality, as always, was high on customers' list of priorities.

And there was, unsurprisingly, a desire to see a reduction in the risk of properties being flooded by sewage.

Mr Millican highlights plans to invest a total of £180m over the next six years, £30m per annum, on reducing the risk of such flooding. This investment will be focused on reducing the risk of flooding for those 300 to 350 homes in particular danger of suffering such a fate with a once-in-ten-years storm event. Some of this money will also be spent on starting to reduce the risks of external flooding, to the likes of school playgrounds.

This planned investment between 2015 and 2021 is, on a per annum basis, between three and four times the £40m (equivalent to £8m-a-year) spent on such measures during the period of the soon-to-end current five-year plan.

Mr Millican highlights the impact of climate change on flooding risks. He also points out the population of Scotland has grown, meaning more paved areas at the front of more houses.

He draws a diagram showing how the waste-water system can fill up, with certain permitted points of intermittent discharge into the likes of rivers in extreme weather conditions. However, he also illustrates the potential for the waste-water to push up through manhole covers, putting some houses at risk of flooding.

In Glasgow, Scottish Water has already embarked on a £100m-plus investment in a new tunnel which will be 3.1 miles long and four-and-a-half metres in diameter and will convey and store waste-water to reduce the risk of flooding.

This sewer tunnel, running between Queen's Park and Craigton industrial estate via Pollok and Bellahouston parks, will be the biggest storm-water storage tunnel in Scotland.

Scottish Water says it will resolve any water quality issues and reduce flooding at key locations in the area served by the Shieldhall waste-water treatment works.

Mr Millican also flags plans for greater linkage between water supply systems in some parts of the country, to minimise service interruption in the event of a major burst in the system or drought conditions.

The utility has recently completed a £4m project to deliver an increasingly reliable supply of water to thousands of Fife customers. The creation of a transfer pipeline means up to 25 million litres of water a day - enough to fill 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools - can now be pumped eastwards from more plentiful sources in the Ochil Hills to the utility's water-treatment works at Glendevon.

Mr Millican cuts a relaxed figure for a man who is in charge of about 3,500 staff, and 29,000 miles of water pipes. The work of Scottish Water also supports a further 3,000 to 4,000 jobs.

He appears passionate about what he and his colleagues are doing, and never seems to lose sight of the impact on the customer, for example when there is an interruption to the water supply.

Mr Millican highlights some good humour from customers when the supply goes off, such as requests from people for Irn-Bru to be sent down the pipes instead meantime.

However, on a more serious note, he adds: "You see some slight desperation from a mother who needs water to sterilise her baby's bottle."

He believes it is important to let Scottish Water employees hear such feedback, to drive home just how much people depend on the utility.

The Water Industry Commission has this week published its final determination of Scottish Water charges for the 2015 to 2021 period, which is consistent with the agreement reached between the utility and its customers.

Mr Millican highlights a move by Scottish Water to look at the generally lower consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation, rather than the old all-items retail prices index, when setting its prices. In particular, he points out that changes in the incomes of people on benefits and pensions are dependent on CPI.

He highlights a promise by Scottish Water to customers that their prices will, for four years in a row, rise by 1.6 per cent per annum. The Treasury has set the Bank of England the target of keeping annual CPI inflation at two per cent.

Mr Millican also flags an aspiration at Scottish Water to increase prices by 1.6 per cent per annum for the following three years, from 2018 to 2021.

He highlights a move by Scottish Water to bring more of the design of key investment projects back in-house, while also citing the importance of three key long-term partnerships with external contractors.

Mr Millican says moving "ownership" of project conception work back in-house will likely involve taking on about 100 skilled staff in areas such as engineering, design, analytics and modelling.

As well as major Scotland-wide partnerships, Mr Millican highlights Scottish Water's willingness to use local contractors in rural areas, such as Argyll and the Western Isles, where this is appropriate.

Scottish Water notes that about 84 per cent of its supply chain is classified as small and medium-sized enterprises, and that 89 per cent of its total annual spend goes through organisations which have locations in Scotland.

It is clear from the numbers that Scottish Water's public ownership model has delivered.

Households served by Scottish Water pay an average of £339 per annum. This is £54 less than the average bill from water companies for their consumers in England and Wales, which were pushed down the privatisation route.

And Scottish Water's household charges have, since 2009, fallen by more than 10 per cent relative to the rate of inflation.

On the business side, Mr Millican appears genuinely enthusiastic about the degree of competition faced by Scottish Water's subsidiary, Business Stream. This competition, from the likes of the major English water companies, has seen Business Stream's market share fall to about 87 per cent.

Mr Millican highlights a major opportunity for Business Stream to compete in the English market when this is opened to competition in April 2017.

He is also animated about the moves being taken by Scottish Water, on its own and with partners, to increase the generation of renewable energy from its sites and thus reduce its carbon footprint.

Returning to the customer service front, he highlights major expenditure on maintenance of infrastructure to prevent problems arising in the first place.

He also emphasises the importance of using sensors to enable Scottish Water to predict and fix a problem before it gets to the point of affecting any of its customers.

In terms of the message on his polo top, and his passion for water and sewerage, Mr Millican certainly appears to be a man who can be trusted to serve Scotland.