Currently the biggest pressure on the catchment is water taken for agricultural purposes.
Water is needed to irrigate crops such as potatoes, although drinking water is also needed for livestock. When river levels are low during periods of summer drought, taking the water can reduce the flow, which affects the ecology of the river.
Migrating fish may become trapped in pools, and the effects of pollution may become more severe due to the lack of water available to dilute them.
SEPA has recently carried out a review of all abstraction licences under CAR (Controlled Activities Regulations). However, further measures such as storing water in irrigation ponds during times of high flows may be needed if climate change predictions become reality
These should aim at conserving water to use in times of shortages, recognising that farmers, among others, need water for their livelihoods.