Water shortages across Scotland could become more likely, First Minister Humza Yousaf warned during a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience room (SGRR).
It comes as dry conditions across the country look set to continue, following a drier-than-normal spring and winter.
In a report last week, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said that, since very little rain is forecast for the next few weeks, the situation is expected to escalate quickly.
Average reservoir levels across Scotland are currently at 85% – 4% lower than average for this time of year and 6% lower than this time last year.
Scottish Water reports that consumer demand has increased sharply since last weekend putting pressure on reservoirs, treatment works and water mains.
SEPA said that, in the north of Scotland, the Loch Maree area has been raised to the significant water scarcity level – the highest level – and the Ness area has increased to moderate water scarcity.
The Esk area in Dumfriesshire has also increased to moderate water scarcity.
Speaking at a gathering of the SGRR on Thursday, Yousaf urged people and businesses to use water carefully amid rising demands for the resource.
“While there is no immediate risk to public water supplies, water levels are much lower than usual for the time of year, particularly in parts of north and southern Scotland,” he said.
“With little significant rain forecast, shortages could become more likely and potentially more widespread.
“Everyone needs to use water responsibly. I urge businesses and the public to follow the guidance provided by SEPA and Scottish Water on the measures that need to be taken.”
He added that the Scottish Government has reopened its emergency scheme to provide bottled water to any homes that need it, and urged householders to contact their local councils when necessary.
Yousaf continued: “Businesses extracting water directly from the environment are also being urged to put their water scarcity plans into action now to reduce pressure on the environment.
“The Scottish Government and partners are monitoring the situation closely and considering appropriate measures to mitigate potential future impacts.”