The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) expects 80% of Scotland’s bathing waters to meet new European water quality standards.
The agency’s latest ratings of Berwickshire’s beaches are varied ahead of classifications being confirmed by the EU in early 2016.
The agency expects that, of the 84 designated bathing waters in Scotland, 17 will be rated as ‘excellent’, 38 will be classed as ‘good’, and 12 will be rated as ‘sufficient.’
However, seventeen bathing waters are expected to be classed as ‘poor’ after this season, due to the much tighter water quality standards of the new Bathing Water Directive.
Along the Berwickshire coast, Pease Bay was rated ‘excellent’, Coldingham and Dunbar (Belhaven) ‘good’ and Dunbar East ‘sufficient.
Eyemouth’s waters were graded ‘poor’.
Increased understanding of health risks from recent EU and WHO studies have been a key driver for the introduction of the new directive. The new classifications are calculated based on four years of monitoring data, and take the overall number of bacteria into account over this period, to give a more consistent picture of water quality condition when assigning the status of a bathing water area.
As well as tighter water quality standards, the directive puts an emphasis on information provision for beach users and bathers.
Calum McPhail, from SEPA’s Environmental Quality Unit, said:“This is a milestone year for Scotland’s bathing waters with the introduction of the new classifications and while it’s disappointing to see that 17 bathing waters are predicted to be classed as ‘poor’ we are pleased to see so many performing well under the new stricter standards.”