Water Industry News

Water Scarcity ‘A Growing Threat’ In East Scotland

While you might not think that it would be a particular concern for such a damp part of the world, water stress and scarcity is already proving to be problematic in Scotland, especially in the east of the country, with growing numbers of areas now being raised to Alert level.


The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has now revealed that the Borders joins the likes of Aberdeenshire, Tayside, Fife and the Lothians, where Alert level has been reached, with local businesses now being advised to be more efficient when abstracting water in the region.


If dry periods persist, it’s possible that the Alert level could increase to ‘moderate scarcity’, with water users encouraged to either suspend abstractions temporarily or do what they can to reduce the volume of water being used.


Despite recent rainfall, groundwater levels continue to fall and are now very low at some monitoring locations, with river flows also remaining low for this time of year.


Commenting on the news, Nathan Critchlow-Watton – head of water and planning at the SEPA – said: “In March this year, SEPA warned that water scarcity conditions could deteriorate quickly if dry weather continues. We are seeing that happen now in the east of Scotland as warning levels increase and expand to more areas each week.


“We have been working with businesses to ensure they have a plan to deal with water scarcity that protects their operations and the environment. This should include carrying out checks to their equipment, considering upcoming water needs and following best practice, such as irrigating at night.


“Water is a finite resource, even in Scotland, and pressures on the water environment will only get worse with climate change. By following our advice and working together, we can all play a part to reduce the impacts.”


Earlier in the year, a report from the Centre of Expertise for Waters also revealed that lochs and reservoirs in Scotland are now warming rapidly and extensively in line with climate change, with the effects expected to intensify over time.


The study showed for the first time that 97 per cent of monitored waterways rose in temperature between 2015 and 2019, with researchers predicting that the south and east of Scotland will be most affected at first. However, the country as a whole is expected to be affected by this come the year 2040.


Warming water temperatures increase the risk of harmful algal blooms, which affect water quality and biodiversity, making it harder for wildlife to survive. Changes in rainfall patterns will also have an impact, increasing the risk of these blooms developing.


Recommendations included within the report to address the situation include reducing the amount of fertiliser runoff that enters lochs and reservoirs.


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