Frequently asked questions
Q: Why have SEPA changed the river level web
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
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
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: You may use the data subject to our Terms and Conditions (78k). 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.
Q: Why doesn't SEPA provide levels for all of its
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
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
Q: What does the current level indicator
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
- High – Above the median annual maximum level
- Normal – Between the median annual minimum and the median
- 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
The hydrology data is provided as is. Whilst providing this with best intention, SEPA cannot guarantee accuracy or availability – Notwithstanding any other provision of SEPA’s Standard Terms and Conditions of Use (78k). Whilst using this data:
- - collect the data in a manner that does not adversely impact the stability of SEPA servers;
- - let us know what you are using the data for.
You should not:
- - make an application that pretends to be an official government service including SEPA;
- - present the data in a misleading or incorrect manner or to misrepresent or change the data;
- - sell, lease, or sublicense the data or access thereto or derive revenues from the use or provision of the data. If you require further information about the use of any Data for any purpose not permitted expressly by SEPA’s Standard Terms and Conditions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Information Management Unit, SEPA, Strathallan House, The Castle Business Park, Stirling FK9 4TZ.