An early warning of water scarcity has been raised in Ayrshire after the baking temperatures of this week.

Parts of Ayrshire reached highs of 29 degrees this week, and now the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is warning of the effects of this.

An increased risk of water scarcity was included in its situation report published today (July 22).

Jennifer Leonard, SEPA’s senior water and land manager, warned “water scarcity is a very real threat as a result of climate change”.

She added: “Dry ground conditions and low river levels mean the Don catchment has been raised to moderate scarcity.

“With similar conditions across much of Scotland, the Ythan, the Dee, the Firth of Forth area, the Almond, Tyne and Firth of Tay group remain at moderate scarcity.”

In the west, the Leven catchment area, Dunbartonshire, has been raised to an early warning, joining the rest of Galloway and Ayrshire.

Scotland recorded its hottest day in history on Tuesday, with 35.1C being recorded at Floors Castle in the Borders.

SEPA said it will continue to monitor the situation and manage water in line with Scotland’s national water scarcity plan.

Ms Leonard warned that as well as a changing climate, low water levels are also a result of “long-term weather deficit and below average rainfall”.

She said although some rain is forecast, “it is unlikely there will be enough to improve conditions”.

Businesses that use water in moderate scarcity areas have been advised to do so only when absolutely necessary.

Firms in alert areas should plan ahead and work with neighbouring water users to schedule abstractions where possible.

SEPA also said in early warning areas businesses should consider their upcoming water requirements and check equipment for any leaks.

If the water scarcity risk level reaches significant, SEPA said it will consider whether restrictions on use will be required to protect the water environment.

Ms Leonard said: “We want to work with businesses to plan their water usage long-term so that we can preserve this vital resource.

“Not only will that protect Scotland’s rivers and lochs, but it will minimise business risks as well.

“Whilst our first aim is always to help people do the right thing, we can hold to account those who deliberately fail to comply with their legal responsibilities when abstracting water from the environment.”

On Wednesday, Scottish Water said its reservoir levels were at 74 per cent, a fall from 77 per cent the week before and down from 90 per cent in late May.