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Water levels return to normal across most of Scotland

Date published: 21 July 2023


River and groundwater levels in many parts of the country have now recovered to Normal Conditions or Early Warning in the latest report published by SEPA.

Businesses abstracting water from the environment are being urged not to get complacent as river and ground water levels return to normal across much of Scotland.

The latest water scarcity report, published today by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), reveals most of the country has now recovered to Normal Conditions or Early Warning.

This is in stark contrast to just three weeks ago when five areas of Scotland had reached Significant, the highest level available, following a period of prolonged dry weather.

Chris Dailly, Head of Environmental Performance - Geographic at SEPA, said:

“Last month was challenging for those businesses reliant on water from the environment. We very much welcome this turnaround in conditions and much needed revival of river levels.

“It’s served as a reminder of the vital role water plays in many industries in Scotland and the crucial part businesses play in ensuring the sustainability of local water environments.

“As climate change exacerbates water scarcity, it’s imperative that water abstractors understand the impact of their usage and step up their efforts to manage this now and longer-term.”

Further rain is forecast across the southern half of the country this weekend, which may lead to continued recovery in some areas.

However, river flows and ground conditions have seen less recovery and are drier in the north-east, Fife and East Lothian, which remain in Alert level. Another dry spell may quickly lead to a deterioration in the water scarcity situation in these areas.

SEPA are urging abstractors in Alert areas, especially if taking water from burns and small rivers, to:

  • Routinely check equipment isn’t leaking.
  • Only use the water required for the use.
  • Consider water saving measures for next irrigation season.
  • If the catchment reaches Moderate Water Scarcity, consider your upcoming water needs and begin to plan with others in the catchment to share the resource or schedule abstractions.

SEPA are responsible for monitoring and reporting on the situation facing Scotland's water resources and work with businesses all year round in industries such as agriculture, food and drink production, hydro energy and leisure to increase resilience to water scarcity.

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

Notes to editors