Drought is now a severe problem for farming

Surface water flooding doesn’t spell an end to water shortages, SEPA has warned farmers, as some areas in the west of the country endure the worst drought in a generation.

Despite some short periods of heavy rainfall causing localised flooding, this has not made up the shortfall as it often runs off dry soils without soaking in, the agency maintained this week as it began direct engagement with operators holding abstraction licenses.

With the ability to implement a temporary suspension of abstraction to protect the environment in areas of Significant Water Scarcity, the organisation said that it was working with producers to ensure best practice was being followed on irrigation sites and to find solutions where problems arose.

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Rainfall at the weekend saw Girvan Early Growers, the main co-operative producing Ayrshire early tatties narrowly avoid a temporary suspension of their SEPA abstraction licence.

“Over the last 30 years we have invested as heavily in irrigation equipment as we could to try to make best use of the water available for our high value crops”, said the group’s chair, Andrew Young.

“Through good dialogue with our local SEPA representative, we have managed to sort out water availability and kept our customers supplied with the quality required. However, this year, despite the investment and support to avoid this situation, we are struggling as the drought is the most severe we have witnessed in a generation.”

Even in Scotland, a country associated with rain, water was a finite resource.

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