Water scarcity, climate change and land use options

Scotland will experience more frequent and more severe droughts in the coming decades due to climate change. This will influence water availability for drinking water, agriculture and ecosystems.

This report looks at this future risk of water scarcity in Scotland, and the link between water scarcity and land use options. We found that mainly East-Scotland is prone to water scarcity in the summer, and that the expected wetter winters will not be able to make up for the lower precipitation in the summer.

As droughts become more severe and occur more frequently, water supply systems should become more resilient to droughts. This can be done by re-evaluating the balance between the costs for increasing resilience against low water supply episodes, and the probability of their occurrence for all water supply systems.

During re-evaluation, the expected low water episodes in the coming decades should be taken into account, as changes in drought risks are happening at a fast rate. This will help the prevention of water shortage during low precipitation episodes. These evaluations need to be performed by SEPA, who will need to collaborate tight with Scottish Water and the Scottish Government to improve the water supply system resilience.

This project was completed by Annemiek Waajen as part of a funded internship under the ECCI Consultancy Innovation Programme.