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  • by Karma Loveday

Scottish regions at early warning level for water scarcity

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has published the first water scarcity report of 2023, which shows parts of western, central, and northern Scotland have reached the so-called Early Warning level. Parts of the country have recorded low river levels and dry ground conditions.

As a result businesses abstracting water from rivers and lochs are being urged to plan for possible shortages this summer.

This follows mixed conditions over the last six months, with winter drier than average across most of the country, in contrast to a mostly wet autumn. A particularly dry February has also contributed to lower-than-normal river flows and groundwater levels for this time of year.

Head of water and planning at the agency, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, warned: “Given the mixed weather we’ve experienced in autumn and winter, and the fact that some parts are already at Early Warning level, what happens next will shape the risk of water scarcity this summer.”

He added: “We can’t rule out a repeat of the water shortages businesses experienced last year.”

Last summer SEPA imposed suspensions on 175 water abstraction licences in four catchment areas. This required support and compliance from businesses, predominantly within the agriculture sector, around the rivers Eden, Tyne, Tweed and Ythan.


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