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Full Pass Marks For Scotland's Bathing Waters

14th September 2006

Photograph of Full Pass Marks For Scotland's Bathing Waters

All of Scotland's bathing beaches have passed the European standard water quality tests for the first time since monitoring began 20 years ago.

On the final day of the 2006 bathing waters season, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) can reveal that all of the 63 designated bathing waters have passed either EC 'mandatory' or stricter 'guideline' standards.

SEPA's Calum McPhail said: "We are extremely pleased by these results. Along with the continued improvement in our detailed knowledge of the causes and sources of pollution, SEPA is working together with the Scottish Executive, local authorities, NGOs, the farming community and with investment from Scottish Water, to deliver environmental improvements to Scotland's bathing waters."

Of the 63 sites monitored, 29 were of good quality meeting EC 'mandatory' standards for the season with 34 achieving 'guideline' standards and being of excellent quality and there were 0 sites recorded as being of poor quality.

SEPA has seen an annual trend of decreasing average pollution counts from all beaches, and have now more than half the average values of seven years ago.

Beach users have enjoyed Scotland's third driest summer on record. However there are still occasions, particularly following rainfall, when short pollution events can and do occur. For example, early July saw two consecutive poor quality samples at Carnoustie which took place after thunderstorms and localised heavy rainfall. An investigation identified the source of pollution from an input to a local burn which was dealt with immediately.

In line with the EC Bathing Waters Directive, additional sampling took place and throughout the rest of the summer, water quality at Carnoustie returned to excellent quality status.

Dr McPhail said: "SEPA is committed to achieving and maintaining full compliance of this directive and we have worked and will continue to do so with others to deliver this. This will be particularly important over the next five years as we move towards new beach management requirements and more stringent European standards"

SEPA's electronic beach signage network, internet, phoneline and text messaging
services, which provided daily forecasts on predicted water quality at selected sites across Scotland, were again a success.

In 2005 the Annual Sepa Beach Report on dunnet Was as Follows -
Dunnet Bay was identified as a bathing water in 1999. Good quality was recorded in 2005 and there have been no failures since 1998. The input of sewage from Castletown has previously affected the quality of the bathing water in Dunnet Bay. As part of ongoing investment to ensure water quality in the identified area is improved, Scottish Water will install a WWTW on a new site further from the bathing water in early 2006. This will remove this source of potential pollution. To ensure that bathing water quality is protected until that time, Scottish Water have installed a disinfection unit (using peracetic acid) on the discharge at Castletown as an interim measure.
The adequacy of the septic tanks serving the small settlement at Dunnet and a caravan park at the northern end of the bay are also under review. Again as a temporary measure, Scottish Water provided peracetic acid dosing to the Dunnet discharge during the 2005 season. After discussions with SEPA, a new disinfection holding tank was
installed this year. This gives an improved 25-minute contact time between sewage effluent and disinfectant. The improved system was tested during the bathing season using on-the-spot microbiological analysis of the discharge from this tank. This showed that the upgraded system was reducing bacterial concentrations to a very low level.
Other potential pollution sources have been checked this year but no new sources found.

The works to upgrade the systems at Castletown have been held up for some time as Wayleave arrangements had not been finally agreed with landowners. The works started some time ago have lain with little happening for some months but it is hoped that the work will be completed in the near future. The completion the works will ultimately make a difference to the quality of sea water in the are of Dunnet Bay.

Full results of all of the beaches monitored are available online at


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