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Drought hits the Western Isles

Hebrides News

The Western Isles is facing one of its worst droughts in living memory while other parts of Scotland are suffering severe flooding.

Islanders are being told to conserve water after utility company Scottish Water warns that reservoirs levels are dropping after a prolonged dry spell.

Exceptionally good weather and months with little rain has created the drought conditions and resulted in a very large number of wild fires in many places across the islands.

There were four large blazes which swept through the tinder-dry historic Lews Castle Grounds in Stornoway.

For a period, the danger of firemen being killed prevented them from tackling the flames whipping around a main electricity sub-station – as water on live electricity is lethal.

The falling water level in the nearby river meant fire crews had to call in water tankers  to fight the fires.

Amateur footballers are also taking a few knocks on rock hard pitches – with the local fire brigade being called out to hose a couple of local sports fields.

Golf courses have been scorched by the lack of rain with sprinklers going at Stornoway Golf Club in a desperate struggle to soften the greens before a week-long round of competitions start next week.

The Scarista course turned orangey brown though a sprinkling of light rain recently aided its limited recovery.

The problems is worse on the Isle of Harris where the thinner layer of peat over hard rock means some traditional wells are empty and elderly islanders report never seeing conditions as bad as this.

Thousands of islanders are told to “use water wisely” for the rest of the summer and Scottish Water is preparing to truck in water tankers and pump supplies from one source to another.

Worst affected areas in the Western Isles are South Uist, Lochmaddy, Stornoway and North Tolsta.

According to the Met Office, the Outer Hebrides has received only 14.5mm of rain from the first 24 days of June compared to the 78.4mm usually expected for the whole of the month.



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