Climate change: Eastern Scotland records 10th driest summer in 100 years

Eastern Scotland experienced its tenth driest summer in 100 years as climate change affected rainfall, an environment watchdog has said.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said there was an east-west split in Scotland throughout the summer, with the west experiencing mostly normal conditions while some areas in the east reached “significant water scarcity” levels.

In the east, eight out of the past 12 months saw below average rainfall. Groundwater levels in the region reached their lowest since records began in 2009.

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Sepa said an extra month’s worth of average winter rainfall was needed in the east to make up the deficit from the past 12 months.

Water levels in the River Eden - pictured here at Haugh Park in Cupar - fell significantly during the long spell of hot, dry weather. Picture: Sepa
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The dry weather led to Sepa imposing suspensions on 175 water abstraction licences in four catchment areas in August and September to protect the environment from the effects of prolonged dry weather.

Businesses such as farmers, whisky distilleries and golf courses were required to stop taking water from these areas or reduce volumes for a brief period to allow levels to recover.

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Nathan Critchlow-Watton, head of water and planning at Sepa, said: “This was the first year Sepa had to enforce abstraction licence suspensions to protect the sustainability of local water environments.

“Action like this underlines the severity of the dry conditions we experienced and reinforces the need for businesses to prepare for instances like this in the future.

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“Water scarcity is just one indicator of climate change here. With more extreme weather and a projected decrease in summer rainfall in the years to come, many places could face pressure on water resources even if they have not experienced this before.

“It is important that Scotland is ready to deal with water scarcity now and in the future. Sepa is here to help with information to allow businesses to make informed decisions about reducing their reliance on water and to plan for and manage water scarcity events.”

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Sepa said as summer turns to autumn, water levels are improving in areas which have been under the most pressure.

However, it said some northern and eastern catchments are still facing the risk of water scarcity.

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