Advice for abstractors

In the current period of exceptionally dry weather, it is important that everyone plays their part in helping conserve water and reduce stress on Scotland’s water environment.

By taking the right steps now, businesses that abstract water can help make the water supplies on which they and others depend last as long as possible through this period.

SEPA is working with businesses to help ensure abstractions can be sustained and the water environment protected.    

All abstractors are strongly encouraged to consider the following steps, along with any specific to their sector:

  • If at all possible, switch to taking water from a groundwater borehole rather than a watercourse. We will fast-track applications to make the switch, even if you don’t have an existing borehole that you can use. Please contact your local team for help and advice. We will charge only a minimal application fee.
  • Regularly check pipework and equipment for water leaks and stop abstracting until leaks are repaired

  • Don't use more water than you absolutely need. Check for over use and stop waste.

  •  Don’t abstract water or modify watercourses unless you have an authorisation to do so, and don’t abstract more than your authorisation permits. If in doubt, please contact your local SEPA office.

A new Water Scarcity Situation Report is published online every Friday.


Crop irrigators

  • If you are abstracting from a watercourse, work with your neighbours up and downstream so that each abstraction of water from the watercourse happens at a different time.

  • Only spray water onto crops at night or when the sun is low in the sky.

  • Position irrigators carefully so that they do not over-spray beyond the edge of the crop.

  • Talk to your buyers about adapting quality requirements for your crop (such as skin quality of potatoes) to reflect the need to conserve water in this period of water scarcity.

Golf courses

  • If you are abstracting from a watercourse, work with farmers or other land managers up and downstream so that each abstraction of water from the watercourse happens at a different time.

  • Only water fairways where absolutely necessary.

  • Only spray water onto greens and fairways at night or when the sun is low in the sky.

  • Position irrigators carefully so that they do not over-spray beyond the edge of the greens or fairways.

Drinks producers

  • If your business process allows and you normally abstract from a watercourse, re-schedule abstractions until after wetter conditions return.