Eyemouth bathing water fails test

AFTER making the grade set by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in the last three years, Eyemouth’s bathing water has fallen short of the required standard this summer, failing on two occasions.

The bathing water was first checked on May 24 and met the guideline quality standard but after nine more positive results, it received a fail on July 20.

SEPA’s explanation read is: “Following a rainfall event, it is likely that run-off from nearby land into the local burns may have contributed to faecal loads in the bathing water.

“Sewer assets were operating as normal and within licence conditions, however, it is likely that pump stations were discharging as they reached capacity.”

This has often been the case at Eyemouth as after prolonged spells of wet weather particularly, agricultural run off from the River Eye will be carried into the harbour and into the bathing water frequented by locals and visitors.

Eyemouth’s bathing water also received a fail on August 17 and this is still being investigated by SEPA staff.

However, some encouragement can be taken from the fact that two subsequent tests, on August 23 and 26, have produced guideline and mandatory ratings respectively.

Both fails were in breach of the limit for faecal bacteria prompting South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish to ask for an urgent meeting with SEPA about the water quality at Eyemouth beach.

Ms Beamish said: “The fact that Eyemouth has breached the sewage safety limit twice in as many months is unacceptable. The raw sewage, which comes from overflowing sewers or farm animal waste, presents a real safety risk and I am seeking an urgent meeting with SEPA to discuss how we can improve water quality.

“Eyemouth is a beautiful part of our region, but it cannot continue to fail to meet this most basic hygiene standard. I want the area to continue to be known for its stunning scenery and as a haven for holidaymakers but at the moment that reputation risks being blighted by the poor conditions at the beach.

“We all have an interest in keeping our beaches clean and we need to work with the community, local farmers and Scottish Water to tackle it. That also means reducing the amount of chemicals used on the land and encouraging Scottish Water to invest in sewage system improvements.”

Chair of Eyemouth Town Community Council, Jo Pawley said it was a shame the town’s bathing water quality hadn’t had a clean sweep of positive results but said the inclement weather the summer gifted can’t have helped.

“It was a great shame that the SEPA people carried out their test on July 20 just after we’d had a bout of torrential rain. We haven’t had the best summer by any means.

“It’s hard for Eyemouth, as just round the corner Coldingham always passes.

“Saying that, I would certainly say there were more people on Eyemouth beach this year than last. We walk our dogs along the beach a few times a day and I was forever seeing families with chairs, wind breaks and footballs and they all seemed to be having a great time. Eyemouth beach is a great place to be.”

Of the 17 samples taken from bathing water at nearby Coldingham, 16 were of guideline quality. Pease Bay failed a test on July 20, SEPA identifying run off from nearby land into Pease Burn and Cockburnspath Burn as the most probable culprit. Of the other 16 tests carried out at Pease Bay, 14 produced water of guideline quality and two of mandatory.