Water Industry News

Scottish Lochs & Rivers Warming Rapidly

A new report from the Centre of Expertise for Waters has just revealed that the lochs and reservoirs in Scotland are already warming rapidly and extensively thanks to climate change, with these effects predicted to intensify as time goes on.


The study shows for the first time that 97 per cent of monitored water bodies in the country rose in temperature between 2015 and 2019, with the majority warming by up to one degree C per year during this timeframe. However, nine per cent rose by more than that, some by up to 1.3 degrees C per year.


Researchers believe that the south and east of the country will be most affected in this regard initially, but all parts of Scotland will be affected by this climate-related impact by 2040.


Warmer temperatures mean that there is greater risk of harmful algal blooms developing, the experts have warned, which means that lochs and reservoirs could be restricted in terms of usage for recreation and water supply, as well as providing wildlife with safe habitats in which to survive.


Changes in rainfall patterns will also have an impact, increasing the risk of these blooms, which outcompete other plant species and produce toxins that can be harmful to both animals and people.


A series of recommendations were made in the report to help address the situation, including reducing how much nitrogen and phosphorus (common ingredients in fertiliser to boost plant growth) enter lochs and reservoirs. Sources of these nutrients include farm runoff and wastewater discharges.


Mairi McAllan, environment minister, commented on the findings, saying that the results are just yet more evidence of the risks being presented by climate change on the water environment and, as such, it’s essential that more action is taken to mitigate the impacts, not just reducing the pace of warming temperatures but also adapting to it.


She said: “We have committed £243 million since 2015 through the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme to support land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland’s natural heritage, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change.


“Scotland is renowned worldwide for the quality of our water. Research like this will be hugely valuable in informing the development of policy solutions and measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and also protect, restore and enhance these vital natural assets.”


The Agri-Environment Climate Scheme works to promote land management practices that protect Scotland’s natural heritage, improving water quality and managing flood risk while mitigating and adapting to climate change.


It forms part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, with between £30 to £40 million awarded each year to land managers.


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