Expect water shortages in Southern Scotland, warns Environment Protection Agency

River levels are low across the Borders area after recent hot and dry weather. Credit: ITV News Border

Experts are warning of an increase risk of water shortages across of southern Scotland.

Bosses at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency have said river levels are low across the Borders area while Galloway has been given an early warning of possible shortages.

The agency added that water usage restrictions will only be imposed if the alert reaches 'significant' levels.

This comes as part of a report published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) following a week of hot and dry weather.

It led to the changing of water scarcity levels in the following areas:

  • The Don catchment has been raised to Moderate Scarcity.

  • The Dee, Ythan, the Firth of Tay, Firth of Forth, Almond and Tyne catchments remain at Moderate Scarcity

  • The Leven (Dunbartonshire) has reached Early Warning

Most of the east coast is now at Alert or Moderate Scarcity. In the west, the Leven (Dunbartonshire) catchment has been raised to early warning, joining the rest of Galloway and Ayrshire.

SEPA said it continues to monitor the situation closely and coordinate steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland's National Water Scarcity Plan.

River levels are low but no restrictions have yet been put in place. Credit: ITV Border

This includes advising businesses that abstract water in Moderate Scarcity areas to only do so when absolutely necessary, stagger their operations, irrigate at night where possible, 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.

SEPA's Senior Water and Land Manager, Jennifer Leonard, said: "Dry ground conditions and low river levels means the Don catchment has been raised to Moderate Scarcity.

"Water scarcity is a very real threat as a result of climate change. It is also the result of long-term weather deficit and below average rainfall, and although some rain is forecast, it is unlikely there will be enough to improve condition.

"We want to work with businesses to plan their water usage long-term so that we can preserve this vital resource. Not only will that protect Scotland's rivers and lochs, but it will minimise business risks as well."

Ms Leonard added that they are ready to offer support and advice to businesses affected by the current situation: "Whilst our first aim is always to help people do the right thing, we can hold to account those who deliberately fail to comply with their legal responsibilities when abstracting water from the environment."

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