Water scarcity

Scotland’s climate is changing and across the season’s, climate change is likely to bring more uncertainty and may exert pressure in areas that have not yet experienced water scarcity. 

If dry conditions persist for a period of time, there becomes an urgency to act to protect water resources for critical activities that support Scotland’s communities.

SEPA is responsible for the forecasting, monitoring and reporting of the situation facing Scotland's water resources and produces a regular water scarcity report between May and September. 

View the 19 May 2022 Water Scarcity Report.

We advise water users to be aware of the potential risk of water scarcity this summer, and for businesses to plan ahead where possible.          

Plan ahead and use water wisely

We all have a role to play in managing our water environment. Businesses must follow conditions in abstraction permits and are advised to plan ahead now to avoid issues later in the year. Through the efficient use of water, businesses can save money and increase their resilience to the impacts of prolonged dry conditions.

Spring/Summer is a crucial time of year for water demand. We have advice for abstractors and irrigators on how to manage water wisely and improve business resilience to prolonged dry conditions.

You should plan, monitor and record the water you use and meet the requirements of your abstraction permit. SEPA can help you to adapt and become more resilient to periods of prolonged dry weather to help reduce the impact on both your business and the environment.

In the National Water Scarcity Plan SEPA sets out how we will work with water users (authorised abstractors and recreational users) and key organisations, such as Scottish Water, to manage water resources during periods of low rainfall.

Take action to manage water use

  • Plan ahead and know what actions you can take to minimise water use and protect water supplies in your catchment.
  • When irrigating your land, check equipment isn’t leaking, don’t over spray, and use trickle irrigation where appropriate.
  • Follow conditions in your abstraction permit.
  • Stagger abstractions with other operators, reduce the volume used, and irrigate at night where possible.
  • Switch to alternative supplies, like boreholes, or temporarily stop abstracting if you can.
  • Follow conditions in your abstraction permit.

Follow our advice for abstractors and other water users >>

Abstractors must record abstraction volumes, including nil return. Download the data returns form.

Advice and support

Finding information about other water supplies:

  • Private water supplies - Information on how to look after your domestic or commercial private water supplies is available from the Scottish Government.
  • Public water supplies – Scottish Water provides advice about water efficient and can answer enquiries about public water supplies.

Contact us

Please contact us if you need any further advice. You can also help us to assess low flow by submitting information and photographs. Find out more>>