Fourteen of Scotland’s beaches polluted

The annual survey by the Scottish Environment Agency SEPA shows that many of their beaches failed the EC tests in May and August this past year, this far worse than last year when all were said to meet the standards required.

The two worst polluted were Heads of Ayr in South Ayrshire and Lunan Bay in Angus, both of which failed to meet the basic limits for E.Coli. A further two beaches, Irvine in North Ayrshire and Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders also recorded five sample failures, but these are liable to be discounted because warning signs were placed at these beaches.

Ten other beaches, in Ayrshire, Argyll, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Angus, Moray and Highland had only single sample failures this past summer and so barely passed the limits.

Those found to be sewage bacteria polluted were Girvan, South Ayrshire; Heads of Ayr, South Ayrshire; Irvine, North Ayrshire; Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute; Argyll and Bute; Eyemouth, Scottish Borders; Pease Bay, Scottish Borders; Dunbar East, East Lothian; Fisherrow, East Lothian; Portobello West, Edinburgh; Carnoustie, Angus; Arbroath West Links, Angus; Lunan Bay, Angus; Lossiemouth East, Moray and Dorres, Highland.

According to SEPA, this was because heavy rain caused the CSOsCSO The sewerage system generally carries surface water from rain falling on paved areas (roads, pavements, roofs, etc.) via a separate sewer from the sewer which carries foul water (sewage). Surface water sewers are generally low in contamination and are allowed to discharge direct to rivers and sea with no treatment, whereas foul sewers go to a sewage treatment works. When there is heavy or prolonged rainfall sewage treatment works may receive some of this rainwater and thus become overloaded. In these circumstances they need to overflow, discharging the overflow with little or no treatment. This overflow either goes direct to a river or the sea or, more commonly, into a surface water sewer which already connects with a river or the sea. This event, when a surface water sewer is compelled to accept poorly or untreated foul water, turns the surface water sewer into a combined sewer (surface and foul water) on account of the foul water sewer overflowing into it. When this happens the discharge from the surface water sewer is known as a ‘combined sewer overflow’. to discharge“sewer overflows” and washed out animal wastes from farmland and urban areas.

Calum Duncan, of MCS, the Marine Conservation Society, agreed that more beaches would fail to meet the new standards. “These results once again highlight the impact of heavy rainfall on water quality, washing sewage bacteria off fields and through overflows into some bathing waters. Substantial continued investment is needed to identify and fix problem sewer overflows and to keep working with the farming community to manage rainwater and limit livestock access to water courses. Only then can we be confident of good water quality in all weather conditions.”

Next year when the new EC standards will come into force, many more beaches may be classified as failures, SEPA estimating that as many as 20 could be officially rated in the “poor” category under the new bathing Water Directive

Andy Cummins, campaign director of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) said “It is very disappointing that Scotland’s beautiful beaches continue to fail the most basic water quality standards, We are concerned that a wetter bathing season, combined with new, tougher water quality standards will result in a dramatic number of Scottish beaches failing water quality standards in the coming years” adding “Surfers Against Sewage are calling on the Scottish government to require Scottish Water to warn water users when untreated sewage is discharged into the sea, as water companies do in England and Wales.”

Source: The Herald and SEPA

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