Parts of Scotland have been warned to beware of water shortages following a “deterioration” in conditions during the start of summer.
An “alert” level warning has been put in place for almost the entire East Coast of the country in response to the growing threat of hot and dry weather.
The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said drinking water supplies remained at a “healthy” level, but groundwater levels “are falling and are very low at some monitoring locations,” while river flows also remain “low for this time of year”.
The watchdog cautioned businesses to have “a plan in place” to protect operations should the issue worsen – particularly those using private supplies.
Nathan Critchlow-Watton, head of water planning at Sepa, 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.”
‘Alert’ is the second ranking on Sepa’s water scarcity scale, sitting below ‘moderate scarcity’ and above ‘early warning’.
Most of Scotland remains at early warning level during the summer months.
Sepa warned the level could rise to Moderate Scarcity if dry periods continue – where users will be encouraged to reduce the volume of water they use or temporarily suspend abstractions.
Citchlow-Watton added: “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.”
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