Bathing water season enjoys good summer

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Scotland’s 2013 bathing water season has ended with all 83 beaches passing European water quality standards.

The fine weather over the summer resulted in all the country’s bathing waters achieving at least the mandatory standard, with 47 (57%) additionally gaining the stricter guideline standard.

This has been the first summer with no failures since 2006, where Scotland also experienced a dry summer.

Since the season began on June 1, SEPA has taken 1,650 bathing water samples. Only eight individual samples exceeded the limits and failed to reach mandatory level (0.5%).

Three samples were also taken on dates when poor water quality was predicted due to rainfall, and were discounted as appropriate electronic signage was in place advising against bathing on these days.

Calum McPhail, environmental quality manager for SEPA, said: “2013 has clearly been the best year on record.

“While 2006 also recorded a 100% pass rate the results this year include 20 more bathing waters due to additional designations in the intervening period.

“Moreover, this year an even greater proportion of bathing waters reached the highest guideline standard.

“The success of bathing water seasons in Scotland is very weather dependent, as changeable weather patterns and heavy summer rains can have a negative impact on water quality.

“This year we have enjoyed a good run of dry months, although there were a few periods of very heavy rain in June and July in both the North and West of the country.

“These results clearly demonstrate the benefit of a dry summer, where lower than normal heavy rainfall events have led to less water running off land which can carry contaminants into streams, burns and rivers (diffuse pollution).

“SEPA has been working closely with many partners to raise awareness of the risks and impacts of pollution, and measures to reduce them, so that wet weather will have less of a role to play in how our beaches perform every summer.”

Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse added: “It is good to see that the water quality at all our designated bathing waters has met the required European standard. A lot of work has been carried out by Scottish Government and SEPA, in association with other partners, in catchments where water quality is at risk. This has been reflected in monitoring with the highest ever number of samples achieving the top water quality.”