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Tankers supplement water supplies in Skye as Scots warned of record low water levels

Coral beach, Skye. Picture: Shutterstock
Coral beach, Skye. Picture: Shutterstock

Tankers of water had to supplement water supplies in Skye during the height of this summer’s warm weather – as Scottish Water again call on Scots to use water efficiently.

Following the second driest summer in 160 years in some parts of Scotland, storage levels in reservoirs are at 66%, the lowest recorded for this time of year since 2003.

More dry and warm weather is forecast next week and, while there might be some rain in September, the long-range forecast is for further dry weather in October and November.

During the period of greatest demand in July, Scottish Water had more than 30 tankers supplementing supplies and, while they say that has reduced through August, they are continuing to tanker in some areas where demand remains high, such as Tighnabruaich and Skye.

Although demand for water has eased since the height of summer, it remains up to 100 million litres per day above average, which is enough to fill 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools or 1.2 million baths.

And, while there is no suggestion of restrictions being imposed, Scottish Water is repeating its call for customers to help protect normal water supplies by using water efficiently in their homes and gardens.

Water scarcity in several areas

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued a weekly water report, saying that Wick has “significant scarcity” for the fifth week running.

Thurso and Orkney are still at “moderate scarcity”, while The Outer Hebrides, and parts of southern Scotland including the Tweed, and areas in the north-east remain at “alert”.

In a report on their website, SEPA say: “Due to sustained very low flows and dry ground conditions, Wick is still at significant scarcity and Thurso and Orkney are still at moderate scarcity.

“The Outer Hebrides, Helmsdale, Ythan (north-east), the Firth of Tay and parts of southern Scotland remain at alert.

“In these areas, conditions are likely to deteriorate further as the country enters a spell
of dry, warm weather.

“There has been limited recovery in the Naver, Firth of Forth and most of the south-west due to recent rainfall.

“These areas have improved from alert to early warning. However, any improvements to ground conditions or river flows, are likely to be temporary due to the forecast dry weather.”


The guidance

· Using a watering can instead of a garden hose because hoses and sprinklers can use about 1000 litres per hour – more than the equivalent of 12 baths

· Not using jet washers, which use an average of 36 litres of water

· Avoiding using paddling pools, which use an average of 400 litres of water (if pools are used try quarter filling them and using the water to water your garden afterwards)

· Turning the tap off when brushing teeth

· Using washing machines and dishwashers only when fully loaded

The call is aimed at customers throughout the country and at holidaymakers and visitors.


What is being done?

Scottish Water is working hard to maintain normal water supplies to all customers and is doing so by producing more water where water treatment works have the capacity, using storage and moving water between networks where possible.

They have installed new infrastructure in some reservoirs such as Stornoway and have worked with industrial customers to provide alternative sources to safeguard supplies in some areas. They have also stepped up our activity to reduce leaks across our network.

In some areas, the warm weather and low reservoir levels have also caused an issue with seasonal, naturally occurring manganese and discoloured water.

“Maintaining normal supplies remains a massive challenge for us”

Kes Juskowiak, Scottish Water’s water operations general manager, said: “People might assume that, because we are at the end of summer, Scottish schools are back and there has been some heavy rain recently, there is no longer an issue with water supplies.

“That is absolutely not the case and maintaining normal supplies remains a massive challenge for us.

“We thank customers for using water efficiently when we asked back in July as we did see a reduction in the spike of over 200 million litres extra being supplied each day.

“However, demand remains between 50 and 100 million litres higher each day than the average for this time of year and our water storage and resources are low due to the continued generally dry weather.

“We can’t do anything about the low rainfall, but customers can continue to help us by using water efficiently.

“If people across the country – residents and visitors or holidaymakers – can take some small, simple steps to reduce their water use, they can make a big contribution towards our efforts to maintain normal supplies for everyone.”

More information on saving water is available at www.scottishwater.co.uk/savewater

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