Manage water wisely to protect your business in times of water scarcity

Sponsored article: With the ongoing dry weather, Scotland is now facing reduced availability of water across the country, affecting a wide range of businesses that rely on it. Abstractors are advised to manage water wisely to minimise the duration of licence restrictions.

Photograph of multiple barrels stored on shelves in a distillery.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) are responsible for forecasting, monitoring and reporting the situation facing Scotland’s water resources. They publish regular water scarcity reports outlining the conditions facing the country, which in the last few weeks, show a deteriorating water scarcity situation. Most of the country is now at Alert or Moderate scarcity level, while some areas have been raised to Significant, the highest level available.

Climate change is bringing hotter, drier summers and is forcing the nation to change its relationship with water. The number of serious drought events is projected to increase from an average of one every 20 years, to one every two years by 2050. Last year, Scotland experienced significant impacts from water scarcity, particularly in the east of the country. For significant risk of water scarcity to be reached this early in the summer this year is concerning. The next few months will be challenging for all those who rely on the water environment to run their business.

Businesses extracting water are being urged to put their water scarcity plans into action to reduce pressure on the environment and preserve water resources as dry conditions persist across Scotland.

Abstraction restrictions

Last year, SEPA temporarily suspended abstractions for some licence holders for the first time. Several rivers had dropped to exceptionally low levels, which can pose a real threat to fish and other life within the river. Temporary suspensions of abstractions were put in place to help prevent any long-term impacts to affected rivers.

This year Scotland has experienced an extended period of dry weather much earlier in the summer months. With the dry spell predicted to continue into late June and early July, temporary abstraction restrictions are expected to be needed again. SEPA continue to monitor the situation and coordinate steps to manage water resources.

Temporary suspensions follow Scotland’s National Water Scarcity Plan, which is designed to ensure the correct balance is struck between protecting the environment and providing resource for human and economic activity during prolonged dry periods.

SEPA are engaging with businesses affected and will confirm next steps directly with licence holders.

Banner with SEPA logo that which reads 'Water scarcity in Scotland, manage water wisely.

Advice during dry spells

During dry conditions, abstractors are advised to manage water wisely to minimise the need for licence restrictions.

  • Check SEPA’s website and regular water scarcity reports so you are aware of the water situation in your area.
  • Regularly check abstraction equipment to make sure it’s in good condition and fix any leaks straight away.
  • Where possible, reduce the volume and rate of your abstractions.
  • Have a contingency plan if suspensions are put in place:
    • have you any stored water available?
    • can you switch to an alternative source, if available within your current authorisation?
    • can you temporarily switch to ground water?

Further advice is available at

This article contains paid-for content supplied by SEPA.