HUMZA Yousaf is urging businesses and the public to use water carefully as dry weather conditions are expected to persist and water demand is rising.

The First Minister chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room on Thursday afternoon to consider preparations and mitigations in the event of further water scarcity.

Following a drier than normal winter and spring, water levels in reservoirs are lower than would be expected for this time of year.

Scottish Water also reported that consumer demand has increased sharply since last weekend, putting pressure on reservoirs, treatment works and water mains.

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The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) also noted that, in the north of Scotland, the Loch Maree area has been raised to the Significant Water Scarcity level – the highest level - and the Ness area has increased to Moderate Water Scarcity. The Esk area in Dumfriesshire has also increased to Moderate Water Scarcity.

A SEPA report from June 1st said that the majority of the country is now at "Early Warning for Water Scarcity". It added: "Little rain is forecast for the next few weeks, so the water scarcity situation is expected to escalate quickly."

The First Minister said: “While there is no immediate risk to public water supplies, water levels are much lower than usual for the time of year, particularly in parts of north and southern Scotland. With little significant rain forecast, shortages could become more likely and potentially more widespread.

“Everyone needs to use water responsibly. I urge businesses and the public to follow the guidance provided by SEPA and Scottish Water on the measures that need to be taken.

“The Scottish Government has reopened the emergency scheme to provide bottled water to any homes on private water supplies that need it. Householders should contact their local council if required.

“Businesses extracting water directly from the environment are also being urged to put their water scarcity plans into action now to reduce pressure on the environment.

“The Scottish Government and partners are monitoring the situation closely and considering appropriate measures to mitigate potential future impacts.”