SEPA issues first water scarcity alert of 2022

  02 June 2022
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published its first water scarcity alert of the year with business operators and farmers in the Firth of Tay area urged to efficiently manage their water use.
  • The Firth of Tay area, covering north Fife and Dundee, has seen the risk of water scarcity increase to alert from early warning stage.  

  • Businesses abstracting water in affected areas urged to be more water efficient to protect environment and business operations.

  • SEPA’s latest water situation report shows dry conditions impacting river flows and soil moisture. 

  • Most of the south and east of Scotland remains at early warning.  

The risk of water scarcity in north Fife and Dundee has increased to alert from early warning and SEPA is monitoring the area closely, coordinating steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland’s National Water Scarcity Plan. Businesses which abstract water in affected areas are being urged to consider how they can be more efficient to protect both the environment and their own operations. 

SEPA is responsible for the forecasting, monitoring, and reporting of the situation facing Scotland's water resources and will produce weekly water scarcity reports from May to September. 

Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, said:  

“It is vital that water abstractors in north Fife and Dundee, who are licensed by SEPA, have a plan to deal with water scarcity. We would encourage businesses to abstract at different times, reduce the volume/rate where possible and consider alternative sources of water. 
“Climate change is already having an impact with a decrease in rainfall expected over the summer, and we have to be ready for more pressure on Scotland’s water resources, perhaps in places that have not had to deal with water scarcity before.  
“SEPA aims to work with businesses to do the right thing and protect Scotland’s water environment. We can provide advice and guidance on ways to reduce pressure on rivers at risk of drought. Taking action now will reduce the likelihood of SEPA resorting to regulatory action.” 

Businesses can find more information about water scarcity and ways to prepare on SEPA's website.

Although Scotland is generally considered a wet country, we are continuing to see the effects of long periods of dry weather. The Scottish Government has this week highlighted the need to be prepared for the continued effects of climate change in Scotland, highlighting SEPA’s water scarcity reports. 

Notes to editor

  • A short audio clip with SEPA’s Head of Water and Planning, Nathan Crichlow-Watton, is available to download from our media centre. No registration is required to access the file. 

  • The latest report and information about Scotland’s water situation can be found on the SEPA website. 

  • The National Water Scarcity Plan explains how water resources will be managed prior to and during periods of prolonged dry weather. This is to ensure the correct balance is struck between protecting the environment and providing resource for human and economic activity. 

The weekly report categorises the water situation across Scotland through a five-tiered approach. Appropriate action should be taken within these five categories: 

  • Normal Conditions - Abstract as normal.
  • Early warning - Start to consider how you can optimise water use efficiency.
  • Alert - If you are irrigating your land, check equipment, don’t over spray, use trickle irrigation and irrigate at night to avoid evaporation.
  • Moderate scarcity - In prolonged dry periods, reduce abstractions by staggering with other operators, reduce the volume and switch to other supplies or suspend your abstractions.
  • Significant scarcity - This means Scotland’s water resources are becoming scarce - switch supplies or temporarily stop abstracting.