SEPA warns water scarcity risk unlikely to improve

  08 July 2022
In the latest water scarcity report published by SEPA, the River Ythan catchment in Aberdeenshire joins the Firth of Tay in Moderate Scarcity level due to very dry ground conditions and low river levels.

The risk of water scarcity in eastern parts of Scotland is increasing, with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) warning conditions are unlikely to improve in the next week.

Despite some rainfall in recent days, many areas have continued to get drier throughout June and into July, and very little rainfall is forecast across Scotland for the week ahead.

In the latest water scarcity report published by SEPA, the River Ythan catchment in Aberdeenshire joins the Firth of Tay in Moderate Scarcity level due to very dry ground conditions and low river levels. Areas around the River Irvine and River Ayr in Ayrshire are also now at Early Warning stage, again due to low river levels. The majority of the east remains in Alert.

Businesses abstracting water in Moderate Scarcity areas are advised to only do so when absolutely necessary, stagger their operations, reduce volumes and durations or suspend abstractions altogether. SEPA can also offer support on switching supplies, such as using groundwater instead of river water.

Abstractors in Alert areas should plan ahead as conditions are expected to worsen before improving. They should work with neighbouring water users to schedule abstractions where possible.

In Early Warning areas, the advice is for businesses to consider their upcoming water requirements, how to use water more efficiently and to check equipment for any leaks.

Water Resources Specialist at SEPA, Michael Wann, said: “Water is a resource that underpins key industries across Scotland - from food and drink production, to farming and golf course management.

“All licensed abstractors must have a plan to deal with the range of conditions they experience throughout the year, including the current deteriorating water scarcity situation.

“Water is shared and finite, and we all need to work together to manage it as efficiently as possible. We want to work with businesses to plan long-term for their usage so that we can preserve the resource as effectively as possible.”

It comes after SEPA warned in March about the growing threat of water scarcity this year as a result of a particularly dry winter. It is also expected water scarcity will become a more frequent occurrence as a result of climate change.

For more information on how to prepare and manage water usage, as well as the latest report, visit www.sepa.org.uk/waterscarcity

ENDS

 

Notes to editors

  • SEPA is responsible for monitoring the situation facing Scotland's water resources and produces a weekly report between May and September when water is scarce.
  • The latest report and information about Scotland’s water situation can be found here.  
  • 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.

  • 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.