SEPA reports expected bathing water classifications under new European Directive

date06 October 2015

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) expects that 80% of Scotland’s bathing waters will meet the new European water quality standards when confirmed classifications are issued by the EU in spring 2016.

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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.

Increased understanding of health risks from recent EU and WHO studies have been a key driver for the introduction of a 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. SEPA’s network of electronic signs at 23 key beach locations provide real-time water quality information and the Agency’s online bathing water profiles give site specific information for each of these locations.

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.

“Scottish bathing waters have been increasing in number and improving in quality since our regulation and monitoring of EU bathing waters compliance began in 1988. All bathing waters originally designated in 1988, and almost all those designated more recently, met water quality standards in 2014 which is a vast improvement from the first year of monitoring.

“Our challenge now is to build upon this progress and bring all of Scottish bathing waters up to, at least, the ‘sufficient’ standard under the new Directive through further investment and infrastructure improvements along with managing pressures from rural and diffuse pollution.

"SEPA currently provides daily water quality predictions at 23 beaches throughout Scotland, as well as via SEPA’s website, smartphone app and Beachline number. We are currently planning to extend this daily signage network to a small number of additional locations so that even more people can make informed decisions about whether to use the bathing waters.

“We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and key partners to protect, manage and improve areas where water quality is at risk as we work towards bringing the bathing waters up to the new standards.”

Minister for Environment, Land Reform and Climate Change Dr Aileen McLeod said:

“This year sees the introduction of a new classification to measure the quality of our bathing waters. It is encouraging that weekly sampling results throughout the season indicate the majority of our bathing waters have achieved the required standard.

“However we know that some waters are still at risk during poor weather conditions, and the new regime shows that 17 bathing waters are classified as poor due to associated pollution from runoff. This is a stark reminder of our need to eradicate these pollution sources and we will continue to work in partnership with Scottish Water and land managers to ensure all our bathing water reach sufficient standard or better.”    

Read about the new Bathing Water Directive and our bathing water quality improvement strategies in SEPA View, SEPA’s online magazine.

The data behind the new classifications can be accessed and visualised using our bathing waters data explorer tool on Scotland’s Environment Web.

Results for individual beaches can be found on our website.

Ends

 

Notes to editors

SEPA's role

SEPA samples and tests water from Scotland’s designated bathing waters during the season 1 June – 15 September. These results are reported to the European Commission on an annual basis. In addition, a number of other organisations use SEPA’s results to apply various beach award and guide schemes.

Results breakdown

During the 2015 statutory bathing season (which lasted for 107 days from 1 June to 15 September), SEPA monitored Scotland's 84 official EU designated bathing waters. In line with the new Directive, which came into force this year, the 2015 sampling results will be added to the sampling results from 2012 - 2014. Based on this the expected classifications for Scotland's bathing waters are as follows but please note that confirmed classifications will be issued by the EU in spring 2016:

  • Excellent classification           17
  • Good classification                 38
  • Sufficient classification           12
  • Poor classification                   17

Predicted classifications

Aberdour (Silversands)

Excellent

Achmelvich

Excellent

Broughty Ferry

Excellent

Crail (Roome Bay)

Excellent

Culzean

Excellent

Dornoch

Excellent

Dunnet

Excellent

Elie (Ruby Bay)

Excellent

Fraserburgh (Philorth)

Excellent

Ganavan

Excellent

Gullane

Excellent

Kingsbarns

Excellent

Largs (Pencil Beach)

Excellent

Loch Morlich

Excellent

Machrihanish

Excellent

Pease Bay

Excellent

Seacliff

Excellent

Aberdeen

Good

Aberdour Harbour (Black Sands)

Good

Anstruther (Billow Ness)

Good

Arbroath (West Links)

Good

Balmedie

Good

Brighouse Bay

Good

Broad Sands

Good

Burntisland

Good

Carnoustie

Good

Carrick

Good

Coldingham

Good

Collieston

Good

Cullen Bay

Good

Dores

Good

Dunbar (Belhaven)

Good

Elie (Harbour) and Earlsferry

Good

Ettrick Bay

Good

Findhorn

Good

Inverboyndie

Good

Kinghorn (Pettycur)

Good

Kirkcaldy (Seafield)

Good

Longniddry

Good

Lunan Bay

Good

Luss Bay

Good

Maidens

Good

Millport Bay

Good

Montrose

Good

North Berwick (Milsey Bay)

Good

North Berwick (West)

Good

Peterhead (Lido)

Good

Rosehearty

Good

Rosemarkie

Good

Seamill

Good

Seton Sands

Good

Southerness

Good

St Andrews (West Sands)

Good

Thorntonloch

Good

Troon (South Beach)

Good

Ayr (South Beach)

Sufficient

Dunbar (East)

Sufficient

Fraserburgh (Tiger Hill)

Sufficient

Irvine

Sufficient

Leven

Sufficient

Lossiemouth (East)

Sufficient

Lunderston Bay

Sufficient

Portobello (Central)

Sufficient

Saltcoats/Ardrossan

Sufficient

St Andrews (East Sands)

Sufficient

Thurso

Sufficient

Whitesands

Sufficient

Cruden Bay

Poor

Dhoon Bay

Poor

Eyemouth

Poor

Fisherrow Sands

Poor

Girvan

Poor

Heads of Ayr

Poor

Kinghorn (Harbour Beach)

Poor

Monifieth

Poor

Mossyard

Poor

Nairn (Central)

Poor

Nairn (East)

Poor

Portobello (West)

Poor

Prestwick

Poor

Rockcliffe

Poor

Sandyhills

Poor

Stonehaven

Poor

Yellow Craig

Poor