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An early warning of water scarcity for the Western Isles has been issued jointly by the UK Met Office and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

The warning comes despite Scotland’s historic reputation for wet conditions, and alongside news of the impact of climate change on UK water levels.

SEPA’s statement, issued late last week (Thursday 11 May) said that latest reports showed the opportunity to secure a sustainable future is rapidly being closed off, and meaningful action is needed in all corners of the world.

Their spokesperson said: “Scotland is no exception. Although a country famed worldwide for its natural water environment and wet weather, the reality is water is not an infinite resource here.

“Climate change is bringing hotter, drier summers and is forcing the nation to change its relationship with water.”

In the latest water scarcity report, SEPA says that dry ground conditions and low river flows in the Western Isles and northern Scotland have resulted in localised early warning areas, including in the islands.

Businesses in Scotland are being urged to plan for possible shortages this summer, after a particularly dry February.

Nathan Critchlow-Watton, head of water and planning at SEPA, said: “Given the mixed weather in autumn and winter, and the fact that some parts are already at early warning level, what happens next will shape the risk of water scarcity this summer.

“We can’t rule out a repeat of the water shortages businesses experienced last year.”

Business and individuals can help by reporting dry private water supplies, rivers and burns. That includes rivers with isolated pools separated by stretches that are dry or have only a trickle of water, distressed or dead fish, dead plants on parts of the river bed that are rarely exposed and exposed algae.

If you spot signs like these, the name of the river or burn, location, description and a photograph if possible should go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The image shows the current early warning of scarcity areas in green, including the whole of the Western Isles (SEPA).