Farming: Water scarcity is set to worsen

The risk of water scarcity in eastern parts of Scotland continues to increase – and conditions are unlikely to improve over the next week.

That was the latest warning issued yesterday by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) who said that despite some localised showers, many areas had continued to get drier throughout June and into July, and very little rainfall was forecast across Scotland for the week ahead.

In the latest water scarcity report published by SEPA, the River Ythan catchment in Aberdeenshire joined the Firth of Tay in Moderate Scarcity level due to very dry ground conditions and low river levels while the majority of the east remained in Alert.

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SEPA said that businesses abstracting water for crop irrigation in Moderate Scarcity areas should only draw water when absolutely necessary – and even then to stagger their operations, reduce volumes and durations or suspend abstractions altogether.

Growers in the other areas were also advised to plan ahead. SEPA’s Michael Wann, said: “All licensed abstractors must have a plan to deal with the range of conditions they experience throughout the year, including the current deteriorating water scarcity.”

He said water was shared and finite, and all needed to work together to manage it as efficiently as possible. SEPA warned in March about the growing threat of water scarcity this year as a result of a particularly dry winter.

“It is also expected water scarcity will become a more frequent occurrence as a result of climate change,” he warned.

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