Even with the wet summer, Scotland’s bathing waters are making good progress

Posted: Tuesday 16th October 2012

Monitoring results released recently by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) show that, in spite of one of the wettest summers on record, 81 of Scotland’s 83 official bathing waters achieved the mandatory “pass” rating for the 2012 summer season.

An improved number of passes were achieved compared to last year, however as in previous years, poor weather resulted in a small percentage of all samples (less than 1%) failing EU quality standards.

Only two locations (Stonehaven and Heads of Ayr) failed overall season compliance under the current EU Bathing Waters Directive.

A smaller number of Scotland’s bathing waters (32 in total) met the more stringent ‘guideline’ standard for water quality than in previous years. Whilst this is unfortunate, it is largely due to the exceptional wet weather and is balanced by the encouraging overall improvement in the mandatory conditions as this is where pollution improvement and public information efforts are focused.

This year the public had more ways than ever to get up to date details on water quality with SEPA providing live information via electronic beach signage, the web, Beachline, mobile phone apps, and also data for Local Authority signs at all beaches. SEPA’s electronic bathing water signs at 23 bathing waters display predicted water quality information and public messages. This has been a successful year for the signs with the daily water quality information and public messages fully operational at every site on almost every day.

Calum McPhail, Environmental Quality Manager for SEPA, said:

“This year the revised Bathing Waters Directive, which is now partly in force, has required new parameters, more complex sampling procedures and public information duties. In terms of monitoring bathing water, and providing information to the public, Scotland is already leading the way and this data will help establish new classificatons at the end of the 2015 season.

“This has been the first season of sampling under the new regulations, and it has never been easier for people to access information on bathing conditions and enjoy a great day at the beach.

“While Scotland’s changeable weather patterns and heavy summer rains can have a negative impact on water quality, we will continue to work towards reducing the causes of poor bathing water and ensuring the public is well informed.”

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

“After another extremely wet summer it is encouraging that the number of designated bathing waters achieving the European standard has continued to improve. The enhanced information from SEPA to the public, through beach signs, the website, beachline number and smart phone app is providing accurate daily information and allowing the public to have confidence in the quality of our bathing waters.

“However, there are clearly areas where we need to improve – particularly in managing the impacts caused by the intense rainfall that has been a huge factor this year. In support of this, the Scottish Government and SEPA will continue to work closely with key stakeholders to reduce these impacts on our bathing waters.”

Results for individual beaches across Scotland can be found at: http://www.sepa.org.uk/water/bathing_waters.aspx

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