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Farmers advised to use water carefully as SEPA issues shortage alert for Tayside

CAUTION: SEPA is offering advice and guidance on ways to reduce pressure on rivers.

Farmers in the Firth of Tay area have been urged to be efficient in their use of water as the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) issues its first scarcity alert of the year.

The early warning alert is for the north Fife and Dundee areas, and SEPA says it is monitoring the situation closely and coordinating steps to manage water resources in line with Scotland’s Water Scarcity Plan.

The agency’s head of water and planning, Nathan Critchlow-Watton, said: “It is vital that water abstractors in north Fife and Dundee, who are licensed by SEPA, have a plan to deal with water scarcity.

“We would encourage businesses to abstract at different times, reduce the volume/rate where possible and consider alternative sources of water.

“Climate change is already having an impact with a decrease in rainfall expected over the summer months, and we have to be ready for more pressure on Scotland’s water resources, perhaps in places that have not had to deal with water scarcity before.”

Farmers are not reporting overly dry conditions, although NFU Scotland’s cereals committee chair, Willie Thomson, said spring rainfall levels were below average, albeit not yet to the detriment of crops.

“But we’re coming up to a crucial grain-filling time, so crops need water to fulfil their potential,” he said.

NFU Scotland cereals spokesman, Willie Thomson .

Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) chairman, Andrew Moir, said the raised awareness about water scarcity might encourage farmers who rely on irrigation to consider building resilience into their businesses.

He added: “Looking ahead, it would be good to see potato and vegetable growers, for instance, getting permission and support to create water storage or reservoirs to catch excess winter rainfall.”

Scottish Quality Crops chair, Andrew Moir.

SEPA says it is offering advice and guidance on ways to reduce pressure on rivers as taking action now will reduce the likelihood of resorting to regulatory action.

The Scottish Government has this week highlighted the need for businesses to be prepared for the continued effects of climate change, highlighting SEPA’s water scarcity reports.

SEPA is responsible for the forecasting, monitoring, and reporting of the situation facing Scotland’s water resources and will produce weekly water scarcity reports from May to September.

Businesses can find more information about water scarcity and ways to prepare for it at website: sepa.org.uk

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