ENVIRONMENT bosses have issued a 'water scarcity' update for Ayrshire and the rest of Scotland - and have warned they "cannot rule out" the possibility of restrictions in some places this summer.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) says much of Scotland is now affected by the risk of water scarcity - and businesses extracting water are being urged to implement their plans to reduce pressure on the environment.

Low rainfall and more dry weather is set to continue for the country, stretching water resources.

Ayrshire, along with most of the rest of Scotland, is currently at 'early warning' status for water scarcity.

Some places, including Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Highlands, have been upgraded from 'early warning' to 'alert' status in the latest weekly report.

One area, in the Loch Maree area in the north-west Highlands, is now at 'moderate scarcity'.

SEPA says that "little rain is forecast for the next few weeks, so the water scarcity situation is expected to escalate quickly".

Nathan Critchlow-Watton, head of water and planning at SEPA, said: “The water scarcity picture in Scotland is just one of the consequences of climate change the country faces, and its frequency and severity is only likely to increase in the future.

"This is a crucial time of year for water demand, but with no rain in the forecast we cannot rule out needing to impose restrictions over the summer.

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"Abstractors must manage water wisely in the coming weeks and months and should already have contingency plans in place in case restrictions are needed to avoid long-term damage to the environment and fish populations.

“All of us have a responsibility in managing our water environment, this summer and beyond. By using water efficiently, businesses can increase their resilience to the impacts of prolonged dry conditions and save money.”

Advice to manage water from SEPA states:

  • Check SEPA’s website and regular water scarcity reports so you are aware of the water situation in your area.
  • Regularly check your 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? 
  • Work together with neighbours and stagger abstractions to make best use of available water.

For more information, visit www.sepa.org.uk/environment/water/water-scarcity/.