SEPA Water Level Data






Frequently asked questions

Q: Why have SEPA changed the river level web site?

A:  The original river level web site was structured in a way that made it difficult to maintain or expand.  The transfer of data from the SEPA data management system was also less reliable than required. 

The design of the new site makes it much easier to add stations.  Station information is updated automatically making maintenance of the site almost completely automatic.  The data transfer system has been redeveloped to remove many of the steps involved in the transfer.  This transfer system will be more reliable than the old method.

Q: Why do SEPA record river levels?

A: 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.

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

A: Under normal circumstances data is collected for operational reasons by our data management system once per day.  At certain times SEPA require more up to date data and stations are polled more often.

This site is updated from our data management system once per hour, so if data is collected by SEPA for operation reasons then the up to date data will appear on this site within the hour.

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

A: 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. Click on 'Flood Info.' on the page toolbar.

Q: Should I use the information on this web site for flood risk or other assessment purposes?

A: The information on this site is intended to give users a general picture of river levels over the past few days.  Additional information, such as maximum recorded level, has been provided to help put the current levels into context.  While every effort has been made to provide accurate information it is possible that the information on the site is not the most up to date or accurate information available.  Therefore SEPA would not recommend using the information given here as the basis for any sort of formal assessment.

Q: The station I’m interested has been without data for ages, why isn’t it getting fixed?

A: SEPA’s Hydrometry team will repair issues at gauging stations for operational reasons as soon as practically possible.  Some of the things that can affect our gauging stations can be fairly major issues and can take a long time to repair.  Issues that have affected our gauging stations in the past include;

  • Stations burnt to the ground by vandals.
  • 100m of main telephone line to gauging station destroyed by train derailment
  • Bridge providing access to station and supporting telephone line destroyed by flooding

The graph page now has a comment field where the public can be kept informed about major station issues that may affect the data displayed on the web site.

Q: Why doesn't SEPA provide levels for all of its gauging stations?

A: SEPA has records for river levels at 563 sites around Scotland.   Some of those sites are now closed or are not connected by wire or wireless networks (telemetry) but are manually downloaded once per month.  These sites could not usefully be included on this site.  A small number of sites that are connected by telemetry are not suitable for display on the site due to data quality issues or issues relating to sensitivity of the data.  Data from approximately 330 stations are displayed on the site.

Q: SEPA have continuous monitoring of other parameters, such as rainfall, water temperature and water quality.  Why isn’t that data available on the web?

A: We are hopeful that this site can be extended to display other parameters at some time in the future when time and resources permit.

Q: What does the current level indicator mean?

A: The current level Indicator has been introduced to help users put the last recorded river level into the context of previously recorded levels at that station.  The latest level is highlighted on the indicator by the dashed line and adjacent pointer.  The range of high, low and normal levels has been identified as red, blue and green areas. 

For the purposes of this indicator the ranges have been defined as follows;

  • High – Above the median annual maximum level
  • Normal – Between the median annual minimum and the median annual maximum
  • Low – Below the median annual minimum

The definition of these ranges is indicative only.  Levels in the normal range may still be considered high in some respect and may be extremely dangerous for some purposes. 

Q: How can I obtain level, rainfall or flow data from SEPA?

A: You may use the data subject to our Terms and Conditions (78k). Please use the following email address (dataenquiries@sepa.org.uk).