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Sepa warns large parts of Scotland could reach its highest water scarcity alert level by end of June

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) warns that Scotland is facing a growing threat of water shortages.

He said that every part of the country had now reached a certain level of scarcity.

But Sepa has forecast that 28 of Scotland’s 83 areas could be in significant scarcity – its highest risk level – by 30 June.

The Loch Maree area of ​​the Highlands is already at that level, while the whole of South West Scotland has been placed on Sepa’s second highest alert level.

Parts of central Scotland, the Inner Hebrides and the Ness area of ​​the Highlands are also in the same level of moderate scarcity.

The warnings came in the midst of a heatwave, with hot, dry weather widely experienced across Scotland.

On Thursday, Highland Council warned that some private domestic water supplies in its area had dried up.

Sepa said the weather could last into early July and a drier-than-usual winter and spring would follow. In May, Scotland received just 44% of its long-term average rainfall.

He called on businesses to make careful use of the water they draw from rivers or lakes.

The off-grid community that conserves its own water

image source, Getty Images

The Scoraig peninsula, on the north-west Highland coast, is home to around 70 people, who have long been accustomed to generating their own energy from renewable systems and using natural springs for water.

Cathy Dagg, a crofter and archaeologist who has lived there for 43 years, said water conservation has never been far from their minds. The sources of water depend on rainfall.

“I think I’ve realized that winters have gotten a lot drier over 20 years ago,” she said.

“When I first arrived here, my memory is of driving rain and storms.

“The drier springs have crept up on us and we don’t have the snow in April that we usually had. Then about five years ago, we suddenly dried it up around the time we put the plants in the ground.

Ms. Dagg’s efforts to conserve water include minimizing toilet flushing and reusing water for washing vegetables to water plants.

“I’ll cool off in the sea rather than take a cold shower,” he said.

Ms Dagg added: “Right now two-thirds or more of our water goes to our sheep.

“Their grazing is sparse and not as it should be, with brown patches where the ground is shallow due to the stones underneath.”

He said the work already begun by some residents on restoring the peatlands will likely continue in an effort to help hold more rainfall for the springs.

Hydroelectric schemes, distilleries, agriculture, and golf courses are among the types of businesses that extract water.

Sepa said it had seen many examples of good practice and innovation but added that the seriousness of the situation meant it had to consider suspending mining licenses next week in the hardest hit areas including Dumfriesshire and other parts of the southwest.

Guidelines have been issued on which companies can be excluded from the restrictions or reduce the volume of water they can take rather than stop it.

The measures follow a meeting last week of the Scottish Government’s resilience room, convened by First Minister Humza Yousaf, to discuss the water shortage.

Sepa’s head of water and planning Nathan Critchlow-Watton said: “Scotland’s climate is changing and we urgently need to adapt.

“Severe water shortages are having a significant impact on our environment, our economy and society. Our rivers and lakes are under immense stress and it is clear that more action will be needed to protect them.”

He added: “Last year, we warned that a decrease in summer rainfall could put pressure on areas that have never experienced water scarcity before, and it’s happening now.

“It is vital that Scotland is prepared to address water scarcity both now and in the future and that people work together to plan and manage water scarcity events.”

Scottish Water has been urging its customers across Scotland to use water as efficiently as possible in their homes and gardens to help conserve supplies.

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