7. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to ensure that water scarcity reporting is accurate and reflective of all areas of Scotland. (S6O-00079)
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is responsible for the forecast, monitoring and reporting of the situation facing Scotland’s water resources; it produces a weekly report on that. Of course, on the ground, information from local authorities is crucial in understanding the impact that drought is having on water supplies. That is why a dedicated reporting line has been set up, enabling local authorities to provide real-time information to the Scottish Government and SEPA. The Scottish Government very much values the monitoring and assessment work that goes on in that regard.
It was alarming to have constituents contact me during the summer to advise me that their private water supplies were lower or dry and that we were at a standing start for supplying emergency drinking water. I would like to have noted my thanks for the assistance from the Scottish Government to my many constituents who are not on the mains water supply due to the rurality of their properties. I ask that the minister commits to ensuring the robustness of water scarcity reporting so that both spheres of government can react to the real humanitarian crisis when indicators suggest that private water supplies are at risk.
I understand Elena Whitham’s concerns and, as someone who relies on a private water supply, I understand the concerns of those who have experienced water scarcity. In recognition of those scarcity events this summer, the Scottish Government acted quickly to fund a scheme for the provision of supplies of bottled water. That scheme is on top of an existing, non-means-tested grant of £800, which is already available to owners and users of private water supplies, to make improvements to their system. The national water scarcity plan sets out clearly how water scarcity levels are determined by SEPA and how those are informed, using a scientific approach and current research.