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  • by Karma Loveday

Low rainfall puts Scotland on alert over water scarcity

Most of Scotland is on an ‘alert’ level of water scarcity, according to a situation report issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on Friday.

The Northern Isles and southern Scotland are in a less severe ‘early warning’ situation but everywhere else is on alert. SEPA reported this was an improvement for the north west and Argyll, where the more serious ‘moderate scarcity’ level was downgraded to ‘alert’ following rainfall.

The Agency said the context is that much of Scotland received less than average rainfall over the winter months on the back of a dry 2018, particularly in the north east. The dry and warm weather over the summer meant many farmers had to irrigate more than normal, and the drier than average winter months did not replenish lochs and groundwater, as we’d usually expect to see. As a result Scotland has lower reserves of water than at the same time last year.

According to Friday’s situation report: “ Further forecast rain will continue to improve the short-term outlook for the whole country. However, conditions will deteriorate again in any further dry period due to the low groundwater levels.”

SEPA offered water efficiency advice to users and advice to abstractors. Scottish Water has also asked customers in parts of Argyll and the Western Isles to use water wisely.

• Scottish Water was among a clutch of public sector organisations in Scotland to release 6,400 hectares of land to new farmers, as part of a programme from the Scottish Government to encourage new entry into the industry.

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