Water scarcity

Although generally considered a wet country, Scotland can be vulnerable to periods of dry weather, which can result in pressure upon the environment and water users in some areas. In addition, climate change is likely to bring uncertainty and may exert pressure in areas that have not yet experienced water scarcity.

It is vitally important that Scotland is prepared to deal with water scarcity both now and in the future and people work together to plan for and manage water scarcity events. The National Water Scarcity Plan 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.

All water users have a role to play to ensure that resources are used sustainably and the potential impact on the environment is reduced.

Current situation

The report above will always be the most recent. Previous reports are also available to view.


Updated advice is available for abstractors and other water users.

Remember that all abstractors must record abstraction volumes, including nil return. The Data Returns Form is available on our website.

Public Water Supply

Any questions about the public water supply should be referred to Scottish Water. Advice on water efficiency is available on their website.

National Water Scarcity Plan

The National Water Scarcity Plan explains how water resources will be managed prior to and during periods of prolonged dry weather. This is to ensure the correct balance is struck between protecting the environment and providing resource for human and economic activity. It sets out:

  • the high level principles;
  • what steps we and others are currently taking in preparation for periods of water scarcity;
  • what assessment methods we will use to determine the most appropriate response to water scarcity;
  • what action we will take during a period of water scarcity;
  • what action we expect others to take.

The plan will be reviewed and updated as more experience is gained and tools are developed.