Water scarcity situation deteriorates in east of Scotland

  17 June 2022
In the latest report published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Borders joins parts of Aberdeenshire, Tayside, Fife and the Lothians, where Alert level has been reached.

Despite recent rainfall, water scarcity remains a growing threat in the east of Scotland with more areas raised to Alert level.

In the latest report published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the Borders joins parts of Aberdeenshire, Tayside, Fife and the Lothians, where businesses that abstract water from the environment are being advised to do so more efficiently.

Groundwater levels are falling and are very low at some monitoring locations, while river flows also remain low for this time of year.

If dry periods continue, the Alert level could rise to Moderate Scarcity where water users will be encouraged to reduce the volume of water they use or temporarily suspend abstractions.  

SEPA is monitoring the situation and coordinating steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland's National Water Scarcity Plan.

Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, Nathan Critchlow-Watton said: “In March this year, SEPA warned that water scarcity conditions could deteriorate quickly if dry weather continues. We are seeing that happen now in the east of Scotland as warning levels increase and expand to more areas each week.

“We have been working with businesses to ensure they have a plan to deal with water scarcity that protects their operations and the environment. This should include carrying out checks to their equipment, considering upcoming water needs and following best practice such as irrigating at night.

“Water is a finite resource, even in Scotland, and pressures on the water environment will only get worse with climate change. By following our advice and working together, we can all play a part to reduce the impacts.”

More information about water scarcity and the latest report can be found at www.sepa.org.uk/waterscarcity.


Notes to editors

  • The latest report and information about Scotland’s water situation can be found here.  
  • SEPA is responsible for the forecast, monitoring and report of the situation facing Scotland's water resources and usually produces a weekly report between May and September.
  • Businesses across Scotland urged to prepare for water scarcity this summer | Media | Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • 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.


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.