One bad day at Coldingham bay

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A huge spike in pollution found in bathing water at Coldingham on August 30 remains a mystery to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Between June 1 and September 15, SEPA check bathing water quality at Scotland’s most popular tourist beaches, testing for bacteria E Coli (EC) and intestinal enterococci (IE). During that time 15 of the 16 samples at Coldingham ranged from 10-80 EC (above 500 is poor) but the August 30 water sample registered 3,700 EC and IE levels were also exceptionally high on that date.

“We have been unable to conclusively determine the source of this high result despite investigation having taken place,” said a SEPA spokesperson.

Despite this one reading Coldingham has a ‘good’ rating for 2016, the change in classifications last year now based on data over a four year period.

Pease Bay water quality is excellent, while Eyemouth remains in the lowest category - poor. Eyemouth levels rose above the accepted 500 EC level, on August 2 they went up to 940 and on July 6, up to 670.

Dr Ruth Stidson, SEPA senior scientist, said: “Although Eyemouth bathing water still has a poor classification, the bathing water has moved closer to the sufficient classification and only needs a further minor improvement (a 2% reduction in the faecal indicator organisms we measure) to reach this.

“The bathing water has a tailored improvement plan and discussions are ongoing with our partners to determine what actions are needed to drive the further improvements which are necessary.”

Calum McPhail, from SEPA, said: “We would like to remind the public that a ‘poor’ classification does not necessarily mean that water quality is continually poor, and that these are still fantastic beaches to visit.”