Scotland is suffering concerningly low water levels across the country with several regions on “alert”.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has urged businesses that extract water year-round to reduce their usage or stop completely if possible.
The warning could affect businesses from food and drink production to farming and golf course management.
Scottish Water has asked the general public to help too, with them encouraging people to take shorter showers, turning off the tap when brushing teeth and using a watering can instead of a garden hose.
Irvine and Ayr, in North and South Ayrshire, are the worst affected with both towns’ scarcity status increased to “moderate” – the second-highest level.
Northwest Scotland, Clyde, Ayrshire, Orkney and the Western Isles are all at “alert level”.
Scottish Water said total reservoir storage across the country is at 81%, down 3% from last week and is below average for this time of year.
Terry A’Hearn, Sepa chief executive, said: “The severity of the water scarcity picture in part of Scotland is further evidence that water scarcity will become more and more prevalent – and is just one of the many consequences of climate change the country faces.”
The latest weekly water situation report published by Sepa shows the majority of the country raised to “early warning level” as conditions could “deteriorate rapidly” if the dry weather continues.
June saw below-average rainfall across Scotland with ground conditions continuing to dry rapidly during the last two weeks.
Many rivers in north and south-western areas have suffered low flows and depleted water resources following a dry spring.
Catchments between north Fife and Aberdeen have been raised to “alert level” due to forecasts for low rainfall following a relatively normal decrease in collection levels in the north-east.
The agriculture sector is advised to stagger their water abstraction with fellow operators.
Where possible businesses should reduce the volume of water they are extracting, switch to other supplies or suspend abstractions if possible.
A spokesperson for Scottish Water said: “We continue to monitor reservoir levels closely and manage our resources carefully.
“Demand for water is higher than normal in many tourism hotspots at the start of the school holidays.
“We would ask people across Scotland to help protect water supplies by using water more efficiently.”