As Scotland sizzles in the sun, swimmers can relax in the knowledge that 75 out of the country’s 86 bathing waters have passed strict environmental tests by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
Beaches in the Highlands and Islands were given the best ratings, with none of the 16 beaches rated as poor and most rated good or excellent. Nairn beach has been given the stamp of approval after two years of a poor rating.
The number of beaches rated excellent dipped slightly with just 25 given the highest rating compared to 26 last year and 34 rated good compared to 36 last year.
However, there were 11 beaches rated as poor, with Portobello in Edinburgh among them.
This figure is the same as SEPA’s results last year. Solway was the region with the worst ratings, with four beaches rated poor. These were Brighouse Bay, Dhoon Bay, Rockcliffe and Sandyhills.
Only 29% of beaches throughout Scotland were given an excellent rating, with 34 deemed good and 16 sufficient.
Partnership projects are underway to improve those rated as poor in an effort to raise the standards of all bathing waters.
The real time water quality of 31 beaches are available by 10am each day for public information on SEPA’s website app, website and at displays at beaches. SEPA scientists use state-of-the-art weather data to provide daily bathing water forecasts throughout the summer season until mid-September.
“Having achieved the highest rate of compliance since the new Bathing Water Directive began we are already seeing many of our priority projects having a positive impact. Both Nairn sites, which have passed for the first time since 2015, have made good progress through working with partners and communities to coordinate activities and identify actions to address water quality challenges,” said Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
The most common causes of poor bathing water quality are short episodes of pollution caused by the impact of heavy rainfall on sewage systems and drains, field run-off and agricultural activity.
“People can help by ensuring that they only flush the right things down toilets – the three Ps: pee, poo and paper – to avoid causing blockages to drains and sewers which can cause pollution on beaches,” a Scottish Water representative said.
Every year SEPA rate all the designated bathing beaches in Scotland. The classifications produced by SEPA are based on four years of sampling at each site and conform to strict European guidelines.