1 June 2011

June heralds the start of Scotland's bathing waters season

Scotland's 2011 bathing water season begins today (Wednesday 01 June) with 12 additional beaches due to benefit from new electronic information signs, and one new designated bathing water.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has started collecting samples for its annual bathing waters monitoring programme at 83 Scottish waters, with Monifieth beach in Angus included for the first time for the 2011 season. The results from monitoring will be available online within a few days of sampling.

SEPA's expanded bathing water signage system will operate daily, displaying the predicted water quality at 23 locations on electronic message boards for beach visitors, and with the information also available by phone and online by 10am that day. This dynamic system provides information on predicted water quality incorporating risks from all potential pollution sources relevant to the actual bathing water at the time bathers are visiting. The signs, which are being installed during June, can also carry additional local information for beach users, such as information on local events, and reminders like remembering to take home litter.

And for the first time, SEPA has produced bathing water profiles as required by the European Bathing Waters Directive for all the designated sites monitored in Scotland in 2010. These annual profiles are intended to provide useful information to the public including:
  • a description, map and photograph of the bathing water;
  • information on potential pollution sources and risks to water quality;
  • descriptions of measures being taken to improve water quality;
  • information on reporting and responding to any pollution incidents;
  • local contact details for sources of further information.
Calum McPhail, SEPA's Environment Quality manager for bathing waters, said:

"Scotland's changeable weather patterns and heavy summer rains can have a significant impact on water quality, causing agricultural run-off or overflows from drains.

"By providing accurate and timely information on water quality, we can ensure that those visiting a bathing water during the season have all the information they need for a safe visit. Please visit our website or call our Beachline number 08452 30 30 98 for a real time water quality forecast."

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"Good quality water and clean beaches are crucial to allow local families and summer visitors to enjoy a safe and fun Scottish seaside experience.

"SEPA are working in bathing water catchment zones to help ensure high standards of water quality are maintained, and electronic beach signs will keep the public up to date on the latest information.

"Our beaches are a wonderful natural asset bringing both natural and economic benefits for Scotland. I hope that everyone can take the opportunity to make the most of our beautiful beaches this summer."

The bathing water season in Scotland runs from 1 June to 15 September with usually 20 water samples taken and analysed. At the end of the season, a bathing water will either fail, or achieve a mandatory or guideline pass.

Dr McPhail added:

"Last year, only 4 out of 82 bathing waters failed to achieve the mandatory or stricter guideline European bathing water standards. SEPA is continuing to work with other organisations, including Scottish Water, local authorities, the farming community and Scottish Government to continue to improve the quality of the bathing waters by planning to further reduce and limit pollution through the river basin planning process."

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