Beaches pass water quality test

Eyemouth beach was popular in the summer.
Eyemouth beach was popular in the summer.

Bathing water quality at all of Berwickshire’s beaches scored well in this summer’s regular tests, most of them consistently passing the higher guideline standard.

Across Scotland the 84 designated bathing waters achieved a 97% pass rate (only two failed) and the daily water quality predictions provided by SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) proved more accurate than ever 88% of the poor water quality events correctly predicted and warning messages displayed to the public.

Eyemouth is one of the 23 bathing water beaches to have electronic signs to warn the public that the water quality may be poor. The sign was correctly activated on August 11, following a period of heavy rain and the fail that Eyemouth beach scored on that day can be removed from its testing results because the public had been warned beforehand.

Pease Bay also scored a fail on the same day.

With autumn having arrived and the bathing season over for 2014, bathing water testing has now stopped.

Next year will see the first change in what is tested for in 26 years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that Escherichia coli and intestinal enterococci should be tested for, in place of the current coliform and faecal streptococci tests - SEPA stressing that the differences will be minimal.

Calum McPhail, SEPA’s head of environmental quality, said: “While we are disappointed that two bathing waters failed this year, I think it’s important, as we move towards the revised standards and classifications in the new Directive next year, to look at how far we’ve come in understanding the environment and tackling the pressures on water quality.

“Whether it’s working with local farmers and land managers to reduce agricultural run-off or working with Scottish Water to identify improvements to their infrastructure, every year has brought further steps towards better water quality. That work will continue in 2015 and beyond.”

Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Weather, and specifically severe rainfall events, can play a key role in having localised impacts on water quality - undoubtedly this year’s results have been influenced positively in some cases by the fantastic beach weather we have seen this year and negatively in other cases when, for example, torrential downpours affected Scotland this summer, in the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha.

“Where water quality is predicted not to meet the desired standard due to forecast severe rainfall, our investment in a network of electronic signs at many of our popular beaches, continues to provide accurate daily information to bathers and water sports enthusiasts, and we must continue to build on the provision of such information.

“Scotland is continuing to prepare for the tighter European bathing water quality standards that come in next year along with a new classification system for bathing waters. The Government and SEPA will continue to work on providing public information at our bathing waters, and to protect, manage, and improve areas where water quality is at risk.”