Warning as risk of water scarcity increases across the country

Sepa warned last week conditions were unlikely to improve as dry weather continue.

Sepa issue water scarcity warning as 11 more areas at risk amid spell of dry warm weather iStock

Environmental experts have warned that 11 more areas are at an increased risk of water scarcity.

In the latest report, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said the Dee, Firth of Forth, Almond and Tyne catchment areas have been raised to ‘moderate scarcity’.

Meanwhile, the Clyde, Helmsdale, Earn and Spey are now at ‘alert’, while the Ness, Nith and Doon catchments have reached ‘early warning’.

It comes after Sepa warned last week conditions were unlikely to improve as dry weather continues, leading to low river and groundwater levels.  

The latest spate of warm weather has also promoted Scottish Water to urge people across the country to help maintain normal water supplies by being as efficient as possible in how much they use every day. 

Over two days last weekend, Scots used an additional 200 million litres of water from their taps in homes and gardens – the equivalent of 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The scarcity situation is being closely monitored and Sepa are coordinating steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland’s National Water Scarcity Plan. 

This includes advising businesses that abstract water in moderate scarcity areas to only do so when absolutely necessary, stagger their operations, reduce volumes and durations or suspend abstractions altogether.  

Abstractors in alert areas should plan ahead and 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 and to check equipment for any leaks. 

If the water scarcity risk level reaches significant, then Sepa will consider whether restrictions on abstractions will be required to protect the water environment. 

Head of water and planning at Sepa, Nathan Crichlow-Watton, said: “The situation continues to deteriorate in the east of the country, with most areas now in alert or moderate scarcity level.  

“We’re also now seeing conditions worsen in the south-west and businesses that rely on water in this part of the country should also be thinking about how to be more efficient.  

“Water scarcity is a very real threat as a result of climate change, and one which affects multiple industries across Scotland including agriculture, whisky production, golf and hydropower. 

“We continue to support businesses across sectors to plan for and manage these conditions now and in the future.  

“However, where businesses deliberately fail to follow abstraction licenses set out by Sepa, we will take appropriate enforcement action to protect the environment.”

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