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Businesses using water urged to stay vigilant after swing in weather conditions

Date published: 04 August 2023


July recorded nearly double the normal amount of rainfall in some areas that were experiencing significant water scarcity in June.

New statistics highlight the contrasting conditions impacting Scotland’s water environment this summer, prompting a plea from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) for businesses to stay vigilant.

Some areas that were experiencing significant water scarcity at the end of June, including the Rivers Annan and Nith, have now recovered in just a few weeks after nearly double the normal amount of rainfall for July according to new figures from the Met Office. Scotland as a whole received around 50% more rain than average for the month.

This is in contrast to a very dry April, May and June for Scotland, with May in particular only recording less than half (44%) of the average rainfall.

The latest water scarcity report, published by SEPA on Friday 4th August, shows a positive picture with most of the country now experiencing normal river and groundwater levels.

However, parts of the north-east around Morayshire and northern Aberdeenshire are recovering more slowly, with just average or below average rainfall for the previous month. This means a possibility remains of conditions worsening in these areas if August isn’t wetter than usual.

Kenny Boag, Head of Environmental Performance at SEPA, said:

“I’m sure many would agree it feels like we often experience all seasons in a single day in Scotland, and the country is in fact famed for its unpredictable weather. The difference between the situation facing Scotland’s water environment in June compared to July is stark.

“While this keeps locals and tourists alike on their toes, there’s no doubt it proves challenging for industries that rely on the environment to operate. Farms, whisky distilleries and golf courses are all examples of businesses that need a consistent supply of water.

“That's why it’s crucial they’re aware of the conditions impacting sources like rivers and burns and reduce their reliance on them. We’re asking businesses to monitor how much they’re using, review techniques and best practice, and invest in improvements where needed. They should adopt a longer-term view to prepare for these dynamic conditions, rather than waiting until levels reach a critical state.

“SEPA works all year round, not just in summer, to support users and foster a culture of sustainable water management. This will not only reduce environmental impacts during dry periods but can also lead to cost savings and improved efficiency for businesses.”

At the end of June this year, SEPA varied water abstraction licences, requiring a number of farmers to reduce the amount of water they were taking from the environment to allow levels to recover.

Water abstractors and irrigators in all parts of Scotland are advised to manage water wisely to minimise the need for future restrictions:

  • Check SEPA’s water scarcity reports regularly to keep up to date with the water situation in your area
  • Regularly check abstraction equipment to make sure it’s in good condition and fix any leaks straight away
  • Where possible, reduce the volume and rate of your abstractions
  • Have a contingency plan for if restrictions or suspensions are put in place

More information, guidance and advice can be found on the water scarcity page.