Drought warning issued for Scotland as water levels hit record low

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MOST of Scotland has been warned of drought conditions as we approach summer, with water levels in the north east now at “a historic low”, Scottish Environment Protection Agency alerts after a record-breaking dry April.

So far, April has been extremely dry across most of Scotland, affecting river flows, which are widely quite low, and ground conditions, which are now quite dry throughout the country, particularly in the North-East of Scotland where areas are in Alert.

Groundwater levels are continuing to fall but are still around the long-term average in most areas with the exception of the North-East of Scotland where levels are at an historic low.

Therefore this region is at higher risk of seeing drought conditions in early summer.

Little rainfall is forecast over the next few days.

Any prolonged dry weather will result in further reductions in river flow and groundwater levels, and drier ground conditions, over the coming weeks.

Therefore, south and east Scotland is now in Early Warning.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency has stated that it is monitoring the situation closely and coordinating steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland’s National Water Scarcity Plan.

Besides concerns over draught, are also a number of mine water discharges from former coal mine workings across Scotland.

When mine water discharges into a river, the iron oxidises and results in an orange staining as it settles on the bed of the river.

The recent reduction in river flows has meant that there is less dilution and this orange
discolouration has become much more visible in some impacted rivers.

Any prolonged dry weather over the coming weeks could result in further reduction in river flows and increased mine water impacts.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency is working with the Coal Authority to resolve these mining issues.

Water sources used for irrigating farm land are at risk of becoming limited particularly in the Northeast.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency are urging farmers in these areas, especially if taking water from burns and small rivers, to:

  • Only irrigate when, and only as much as, absolutely necessary;
  • Make sure irrigation equipment isn’t leaking.
  • Try to irrigate at night to reduce evaporation losses.
  • Explore how you and your neighbours in the same river catchment could avoid irrigating at the same time.
  • Consider whether you could switch to using groundwater rather than river water if conditions worsen. If you would need a new borehole to do this, your local Environment Protection Agency office will be able to help and advise.

Managers of golf courses in this part of the country are asked to do the same.