The SNP’s Net Zero Secretary will bring forward new laws later this year to “modernise and update the water industry” to help Scotland better adapt to the extreme impacts of the climate crisis.

Mairi McAllan will table the proposals in the autumn after a damning assessment by statutory advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), of Scotland’s adaptation to climate change.

The legislation will help Scotland "deal with increased frequencies of storms and increased temperatures on our water, sewerage and drainage services", Ms McAllan has said.

In a report, published last March, the CCC’s Baroness Brown warned SNP ministers there are “an insufficient number of appropriate indicators to adequately assess how the vulnerability of the water supply is changing under climate change”.

Read more: SNP Government warned by advisers that action to mitigate climate crisis has 'stalled'

She added that “the use of land for natural flood management remains poorly recorded”.

Overall, Baroness Brown stressed that “action is not happening at the scale or pace required” to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

She highlighted that the Scottish Government's strategy to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown has "stalled" – putting people, businesses and critical infrastructure at risk.

Over the last 30 years, average temperatures in Scotland have increased by 0.5C, while winters have become 5% wetter and the sea level around the Scottish coast has risen by up to 3cm each decade.

In a letter of response to Baroness Brown, sent 17 months after her critical CCC report, Ms McAllan has insisted that the Scottish Government is addressing water scarcity issues by “urging everyone to use water efficiently, businesses to put their water scarcity plans into action and we have reopened the emergency scheme to provide bottled water to any homes on private water supplies that need it”.

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She added: “To address future water scarcity and other risks, we are developing policy options with a view to bringing forward new legislation to modernise and update the water industry to adapt to the extremes of climate change.

“This will consider measures to deal with increased frequencies of storms and increased temperatures on our water, sewerage and drainage services.

“We recognise that significant change will be required to ensure that public health and the environment are protected in years to come. We intend to consult on policies in autumn 2023.”

The Marine Conservation Society has called for action from SNP and Green ministers after the charity recorded more than 35,000 pieces of sewage-related litter on Scottish beaches in 2022.

The UK’s leading ocean charity has found that only 3.4% of storm overflows are monitored and reported on in Scotland, compared to 96% in Wales and 91% in England.

Sepa, which monitors storm overflows, has acknowledged that much of Scotland’s infrastructure is “a legacy from the Victorian era”, adding that “huge national undertaking” will be needed to upgrade it across the UK.

Read more: SNP urged to act as Scotland behind England in sewage monitoring

The cabinet secretary said her government’s new national flood resilience strategy, which will be consulted on later this year, “will form an integral part of the next adaptation programme”.

She added: “The aim of the strategy is to bring about a transformational change to managing flooding in response to the climate crisis, bringing together existing and new partners to deliver a broader range of flood resilience actions faster.”

Ms McAllan said that Scottish Water is “updating its climate change risk assessment to reflect the potential for 2 to 4 degrees of warming and the implications this will have for water and wastewater services”.

In her “initial response”, Ms McAllan has told the CCC that “adapting to the current and future impacts of climate change is a clear priority for this government”.

She pointed to commitments made when she took on her role as Net Zero Secretary in March that by 2026, she will have “set out our plan for building resilience to the impacts that climate change is having and will increasingly have on communities and businesses, in our adaptation programme.”

Scottish LibDems leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said: "Scottish Liberal Democrats have been campaigning vigorously to clean up our waterways.

"No one wants to live in a country in which wet wipes and sanitary towels are regularly dumped into our rivers and onto our beaches by a government-owned water company.

“Across Scotland we know there were more than 14,000 sewage spills last year but people are being kept in the dark about the true scale of the problem because so many sewage outlets are unmonitored.  

“The government need to commit to recording and published all sewage discharges, to legally-binding targets to tackle sewage dumping, and for new measures to upgrade Scotland's Victorian sewage systems that will protect our rivers and beaches.

“Separately, we also need to see a proper plan for water scarcity to protect against the mass failure of crops, avoid blanket irrigation bans and give farmers the flexibility they need.”