Water abstraction suspensions lifted in Fife but continued in Borders

Water abstraction suspensions are being lifted in Fife due to recent rainfall the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has announced.

Farmers in the River Eden catchment area of Fife have been given permission to take water from natural sources again after several days of wet weather.

SEPA say river levels in the area are two and a half times higher than they were on Saturday.

However, rainfall in the Scottish Borders has not been enough to make up for the longer-term deficits and recovery in the River Tweed.

As a result, water abstraction licences will be suspended from midnight on Thursday.

Water levels in the River Tweed catchment area reached “significant scarcity” last week, the highest category defined by SEPA.

The agency says recent rainfall has not been enough to reverse the current situation.

With more prolonged dry weather forecast, SEPA will continue to monitor conditions and take appropriate action until the risk of water scarcity has reduced.

The east of Scotland has been particularly badly affected by water scarcity.

In order for water levels to return to normal conditions, double the amount of average rainfall in August would be needed.

Rob Morris, senior manager at SEPA’s Rural Economy Unit, said suspending abstraction licences was not a decision taken lightly. He added: “We are so pleased with how farmers in the River Eden catchment responded to the urgent water scarcity situation.

We thank them sincerely for doing the right thing and complying with the abstraction suspensions. We saw a significant 38% rise in the river level in just a few hours from when suspensions were imposed at midnight to when rainfall started later on Sunday afternoon. This shows the impact their actions had, and their support has been critical in allowing water levels to recover to a point where suspensions are no longer required.

“We’ll continue to monitor river levels across Scotland, and make our decisions based on science and the need to prevent long-term damage to local water environments that we rely on. With further dry weather in the forecast, it’s important that everyone abstracting water continues to manage their water use carefully.”