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Relief for rivers as rainfall revives water levels in parts of Scotland

Date published: 07 July 2023


The latest water scarcity report confirms the Rivers Annan, Nith, the Outer Hebrides, and the Loch Maree area have improved from Significant Water Scarcity to Moderate Scarcity.

There is light relief for parts of Scotland’s water environment, with rain over the past week leading to some recovery in river and groundwater levels.

The latest water scarcity report, published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), reveals the Rivers Annan and Nith in Dumfries and Galloway, Loch Maree in the Highlands and the Outer Hebrides have moved from Significant down to Moderate Scarcity. The majority of Argyll and Bute has also returned to Normal Conditions.

The rainfall has not been enough in other parts of Scotland though, with the Black Isle remaining in Significant for a second week, and the Forth area also rising from Alert to Moderate Scarcity.

Farmers on the Black Isle who are taking water from the environment have been required to temporarily reduce the volume of water they abstract. Those affected have been contacted by SEPA and the restrictions will be for the minimum time necessary.

Head of Water and Planning at SEPA, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, said:

“We’re seeing some respite this week in areas of Scotland. Water levels had depleted to a critical point, so the rain came just in time. However, water scarcity is by no means over, and much of Scotland is still facing challenging conditions.

“The Met Office forecast is for a dry period of weather at the end of the month. We know water levels in some areas of Scotland are unlikely to have recovered to a strong enough point to withstand that.

“That’s why we strongly urge businesses to be aware of the conditions for their area and take steps now, rather than waiting until the eleventh hour.”

As well as the weekly water scarcity reports, SEPA also provides an online ‘Drought Risk Assessment Tool’ to help businesses understand current water levels and forecasts the date on which SEPA may take action to reduce or stop abstractions.

Nathan Critchlow-Watton added:

“Businesses need to play their part and be proactive in understanding current river flows and their own water requirements, as well as having a contingency plan ready if the amount they can take from rivers is reduced or stopped.

“During dry periods, they should do all they can to reduce water use and check SEPA’s water scarcity report and online tool regularly. Abstraction equipment should be checked to make sure it’s in good condition and any leaks fixed straight away.

“We are here to help and have lots of advice and guidance available on steps to take during water scarcity, and what longer-term actions can be taken to adapt to the changing climate. Working with us will reduce the likelihood of SEPA having to impose further restrictions or stopping abstractions altogether.”

SEPA continues to monitor and report weekly on river and groundwater levels.

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

Notes to editors