Water scarcity is still impacting the majority of Scotland despite heavy rainfall this week, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has warned. 

Businesses and individuals abstracting water are being warned that action is needed now to protect water resources. 

Significant and Moderate Scarcities remain in place in many areas of northern and south-western Scotland.

SEPA has said that a short period of heavy rainfall is "not sufficient" to make up this shortfall of rainfall and much of it may quickly run off the dry soils without soaking in.

The latest weekly Water Scarcity Situation Report from SEPA shows that there is signficant scarcity in the Wigtownshire area of Galloway, Helmsdale, Naver and the Wick area of Caithness. 

Moderate scarcity has been seen in the Western Isles, Orkney, Doon, Ayr, Clyde and Irvine. 

There is an alert in all other catchments in the south of Scotland, many catchments down the east coast as well as a few west coast catchments. 

While an early warning is in place for the rest of the country with the exception of Spey, Loch Linnhe and Lochy which remain in normal conditions.


Water abstractors licenced by SEPA have been told to take action now and should monitor their water usage and equipment to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency and avoiding any unnecessary leakage. 

SEPA say they can provide advice on a series of straightforward steps that can be taken to reduce stress on Scotland’s water environment and staff are available to provide advice and guidance. However, if businesses deliberately fail to follow the abstraction guidelines set out by SEPA this may result in enforcement action.  

Abstractors in catchments at Alert level or above, have been contacted to advise them of the conditions and relevant actions they should take. 

Water scarcity conditions  were predicted back in the spring after Scotland experienced an extremely dry April, with less than a third of the usual rainfall across a large part of the country. This caused water levels to fall rapidly and ground conditions became increasingly dry.

Wet weather in early May partly balanced this in some areas of the country, but in others it remained quite dry.

Scotland as a whole had less than half the normal rainfall for June (45%) and was 1.4 degrees C warmer than usual. Ground conditions continued to dry rapidly over the last  two weeks of the month.

Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said:  “The mixture of extreme rainfall, thundery showers, and significant water scarcity that we’ve seen this week in Scotland shows that we are very much living through more extreme weather patterns – and one does not balance out the other.

"This is just one of the many consequences of climate change Scotland is facing, and it is becoming more common.  

“Everyone knows that water is a vital resource. We need to get used to the idea that, even in a water-abundant nation like Scotland, it is a finite resource - as shown by the increasing severity of the water scarcity picture in large areas of the country.

“Water scarcity is resulting in pressures on the environment and water users and businesses abstracting water must take action now to conserve water."

Scottish Water is reminding people across Scotland to use water efficiently after confirming that demand is so high during the warm weather that it’s had to produce more than 200 million litres of extra water per day nationwide in the last fortnight to maintain normal supplies. 

Those concerned about private water supply levels should contact their local authority and they will be offered free bottled water through a Scottish Government support scheme. 

The prolonged period of dry weather that has led to water scarcity across the country can put a lot of pressure on rivers. We may see impacts on wildlife across the country as a result, including dead fish.