River Levels

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River levels

SEPA monitors water level at 392 sites throughout Scotland. This section of the website provides level data for the last few days for around 330 of these stations. Most of the stations are sited on rivers; however data from several tide and loch level recorders are also displayed. Fishermen, canoeists and other river users can use the information on these pages to help with planning their river use.

Data collection

River level data is collected at gauging stations using a variety of electronic sensors and data loggers. The majority of data loggers are connected to the telephone network, enabling SEPA to collect the data remotely. Data from these telemetry stations is collected automatically at least once a day. Sometimes data is collected more frequently depending on operational requirements and the type of communication method used at specific stations.

Data is transferred from our data management system to the web site once an hour, at about 20 past the hour, so if data is collected by SEPA it should appear on the web site within the hour.

The system that manages the data displayed on this web site is the same system that collects data for our flood warning service. During flood warning events if the data feed to the web site adversely affects performance for flood warning purposes then it is possible that the data feed to the web site will be switched off temporarily. This will only be done if absolutely necessary.

Occasionally, data for a site may be unavailable or incorrect. This is generally caused by a failure with instrumentation, the telephone network or in one of the computer systems that process the data. Problems will generally be resolved within a period of a day up to a week, depending on the nature of the problem. Where a problem is expected to last longer than a week an explanatory note may be placed in the comments on the graph page for the station.

Data interpretation

The level graphs show the change in level over the past two days and on the current day. An increase in river level is normally associated with rainfall in the catchment. However, certain sites are subject to artificial control by, for instance, hydro power stations that may artificially influence the level of the river. Some stations are tidal sites, or river level sites affected by the tide. At these stations the water level rises and falls several metres twice each day.

The graphs show the water level relative to a local datum and may not directly represent the depth of water between the river bed and the surface.

To give the user some perspective of the relative level of the river figures for the maximum, minimum and average of the recorded level are shown. These figures are based on our digital river level records and it is possible that higher or lower values have been recorded, but are not available in digital format.

The maximum value given may be the maximum value ever recorded at the station and in some cases this will be an extremely high level which will be seen only rarely at the station.

The minimum level given is the minimum level on record and may be the result of an extreme event. When considering low levels it should be understood that river bed conditions can vary naturally from year to year affecting the level recorded at low flows. For example the level on the Annan at Woodfoot in summer of 2010 was 200mm higher than the level the previous summer with the same flow in the river.

FAQ's

Why do SEPA record
river levels?

The main reason that SEPA records river levels is to calculate the flows in the river. Knowledge of the flow of water in a river is important in order to effectively manage that water. River flow information is also useful in evaluating changes in the environment due to changes in land use or climate change. Flood warning is one of the main drivers for collecting river level data.

Why can't SEPA update
data on the site more
frequently?

Data is collected by our data management system at least once per day and increasingly more frequently; depending on station-specific communications methods and operational requirements. This site is updated from our data management system once per hour, so if data is available, it will appear on this site within the hour.

Why can't SEPA
provide real time river
level information
during flood events?

This site can only support hourly updates and is not designed for the frequency of updates that would be required to monitor a flood event.

We would advise users to visit the flooding pages for the most up to date information on flooding in their area.

What mobile devices
does this site support?

Details of device support is available here: Supported Devices

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