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Farmers urged to irrigate responsibly as water scarcity risk increases

SEPA is urging growers to check their irrigation equipment is not leaking.
SEPA is urging growers to check their irrigation equipment is not leaking.

Farmers busy watering thirsty crops of potatoes and vegetables are being urged to irrigate responsibly amid concerns over water scarcity in many parts of Scotland.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has called on all businesses which abstract water to monitor their water usage and equipment to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency.

It comes in the wake of the agency’s latest water scarcity situation report which cites ‘significant scarcity’ in the Helmsdale and Naver rivers in Sutherland, and ‘moderate scarcity’ in the Wick river in Caithness and the Cree, Doon, Ayr and Irvine rivers in the south-west of Scotland.

The Findhorn and Ythan rivers in the north-east, along with the Clyde and Arran rivers are on alert, while the rest of the country, with the exception of Loch Linnhe and Lochy on the west coast, are on an early warning.

SEPA said Scotland only experienced 45% of its normal rainfall in June, and although the country experienced wet weather at the start of May, this followed an extremely dry April.

“Water scarcity is resulting in pressures on the environment and water users and businesses abstracting water must take action now to conserve water,” said SEPA chief executive, Terry A’Hearn.

Growers are advised to work together to secure the water available and to consider allocating different times with their neighbours for abstracting to minimise any potential impacts.

SEPA also asks all growers to check their irrigation equipment is not leaking, to irrigate at night to avoid evaporation, if they can, not to over-spray, and to consider trickle irrigation.

“SEPA is here to offer support and guidance, so if you are having difficulty obtaining water supply or are concerned about meeting licence conditions get in touch,” added Mr A’Hearn.

“If you work with us and try do to the right thing in this next period, you will find a helpful and supportive regulator. If you deliberately do the wrong thing, then you’ll get the uncompromising regulator your behaviour deserves.”

Advice for farm businesses abstracting water for irrigation is on the SEPA website at sepa.org.uk

Water scarcity alert issued for parts of north and north-east as lack of rainfall causes concern

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