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World Rivers Day – Water Scarcity

Scotland is usually seen as a country with lots of water and little need to worry about the wet stuff running out. This however is not the case and due to climate change, we are seeing increased risks to the amount of water in our rivers in parts of the country. As we approach World Rivers Day on the 25th September, we are highlighting the impacts of water scarcity on rivers around the Forth.

During 2022, the country has been particularly dry in places, mostly the East coast of Scotland. In the Forth, we didn’t escape the prolonged dry spell with many of our eastern catchments suffering drought conditions as little rain fell. The Rivers Carron, Devon, Leven, Almond, Avon, Water of Leith, Esk and Tyne all suffered from extremely low water levels causing issues for the rivers. Levels were so low on the Tyne, SEPA declared significant water scarcity which resulted in SEPA suspending abstraction licenses within the catchment. The other catchments mentioned reached moderate scarcity.

In these prolonged dry spells, tributaries and burns higher up in a catchment can be impacted more than the main stem of a river. Areas of wetted habitat for fish shrink with some parts of the catchment even drying up completely. This can wipe out a whole generation of fish and insect life that rely on being submerged, causing sections of river to be void of life until repopulated.

Making sure rivers are resilient to threats such as water scarcity is vital for the survival of our iconic species. Ensuring peatbogs are healthy and not drained helps release a steady flow into rivers. Increasing wetlands on floodplains and blocking drains in agricultural land not used anymore also protects against water scarcity by keeping more water on the land and slowing the flow out to sea. Agencies such as SEPA need to act and make sure abstraction changes at a quicker pace based on river flows and that measures to protect the water environment are implemented at speed.

Measures can be taken by landowners and abstractors to protect rivers. Whether this is carrying out water resilience projects to slow the flow or change how and when they use water. If you would like to find out more about water scarcity, head to SEPA’s website here – https://www.sepa.org.uk/environment/water/water-scarcity/

If you would like to discuss how you can become more water resilient and like advice on slowing the flow, get in touch with us by emailing trust@forthriverstrust.org

#givingriversavoice #worldriversday #worldriversday2022  #saveourrivers #sosrivers #protectnature #wildsalmoncrisis #climatechange #climatecrisis #globalwarming #waterscarcity

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