Fancy a swim in the Forth? Perhaps not

WATER quality at beaches around Edinburgh is only just meeting basic standards of cleanliness, according to the latest test results.

Samples collected at beaches around the area and tested by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency showed that water quality at Portobello and Cramond have met the minimum EU standard – but it is not necessarily advisable to take a dip.

Recent tests have shown that the "basic pass" is not enough to minimise the risk of swimmers catching a serious illness from pollutants, and stricter standards, already agreed by the EU, are set to come into force by next year.

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Meanwhile, Fisherrow West beach, in Musselburgh, failed to meet even the minimum standard for the first time since 2006. Scottish Water is currently working on improvements to sewage works in the Esk Valley, and it is hoped this will help raise the standard of bathing water quality.

The results were released ahead of today's launch of the online Good Beach Guide, compiled by the Marine Conservation Society.

For the second year running, seven beaches in East Lothian received a gold standard "recommended" grade from the survey.

But overflows of sewage from storm sewers caused by heavy rain, and the continued practice of venting sewage into coastal waters meant four of the 16 beaches tested locally only received a basic pass.

A further four beaches were awarded a guideline pass, meaning they had met higher European directives, but were still not considered to be in the top tier.

Overall, heavy rain was blamed for the lowering of results, which saw a ten per cent drop in the number of Scottish bathing beaches recommended for excellent water quality in the guide.

The tests were carried out between June and September last year, coinciding with the wettest summer in Scotland for 30 years.

Calum Duncan, Scottish conservation manager for the Marine Conservation Society, said: "The heavy rain has had a big effect on these results, and Dunbar Belhaven and Longniddry were close to keeping their 'recommended' status, but fell just short.

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"This is still a great improvement from ten years ago, when half of Scotland's tested beaches failed water quality tests."

Jim Conlin, environmental regulation manager at Scottish Water, said: "Following the wettest summer in Scotland for 30 years, we welcome the fact that 44 beaches across Scotland have still been recommended.

"This is good news for Scotland. A total of 108 beaches were tested with only 18 failures."