It's crunch time for Dhoon Bay bathing quality this year

2022 is key year for Dhoon Bay as bathing water season begins

Dhoon Bay - image by PitchUp
Dhoon Bay - image by PitchUp

Targeted SEPA improvement actions are in place to improve bathing water quality at Dhoon Bay as the Scottish bathing water season begins.

2022 is a key year for Dhoon Bay as another poor classification would result in the loss of its designated bathing water status.

The Scottish Government has provided funding to help tackle the problem.

Focus is on improving the treatment of private sewage and reducing run-off from agricultural land. Visitors to Dhoon Bay urged to dispose of caravan and campervan toilet waste appropriately. Beach users encouraged to know key steps to protect the water environment and ensure they stay safe near the water. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is collaborating with partners to improve water quality at Dhoon Bay as the 2022 bathing water season begins.

Scotland has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but also experiences some of the wettest weather in Europe. Heavy rain can have an impact on water quality at bathing waters due to contaminants being washed into rivers from sewage treatment systems, slurry spreading activities and livestock grazing.

Having been classified as ‘Poor’ for four seasons in a row, 2022 is a key year for Dhoon Bay as another poor classification would result in the loss of its designated bathing water status. While the beach would remain open and people could still go into the water, advice against bathing would be displayed.

A plan is in place to improve water quality which needs the local community, visitors and businesses to work in partnership to address the issues.

Rob Morris, SEPA Senior Manager Environmental Performance, said: “Continually ranked as one of the most beautiful countries in the world by Rough Guide, Scotland’s natural environment is world-renowned and provides a high motivation for people to visit. Figures from Visit Scotland show that in 2019 38% of international visitors visited a Scottish beach, during their visit – and domestic tourism resulted in 2.31 million overnight trips to seaside and coastal locations and generated £448m of expenditure for the Scottish economy.

“We want to ensure that locals and visitors alike experience great water quality, which is why we’re working with the Scottish Government, Dumfries and Galloway Council, NFUS, Scottish Water, South of Scotland Enterprise, Community Council, local residents and farmers on the solutions to the water quality issues at Dhoon Bay. Our aim is to see an improvement to at least “Sufficient” during the 2022 season.”

A key pressure on water quality at Dhoon Bay is from human sewage. With no Scottish Water assets in the area, private sewage systems are the principal focus for improvements.

The local Community Councils have been working with residents to ensure that septic tanks are emptied prior to the bathing season. Scottish Water has assisted by offering a pre-season septic tank emptying service which will help to improve how the private sewage treatment systems operate over the summer.

A Scottish Government study in 2019/20 explored the options to collect and treat sewage and providing additional treatment was deemed the most viable. The Scottish Government has provided funding to help tackle the problem and SEPA and Scottish Water are taking this work forward.

Support is also being offered to a local caravan park owner.

These actions are aimed at improving water quality in what will be a critical year for this location.  

The increase in campervan and motorhome tourism in recent years, which means more toilet waste to be disposed of.

Dumfries and Galloway Council is urging visitors to ensure that their waste is disposed of appropriately. Chemical toilets should never be poured down drains or public toilets. The chemicals and bacteria can contaminate the environment as it can result in blockages, spills and can impact septic tanks and sewage treatment works.

A disposal point is available at Kirkcudbright Swimming Pool, around three miles drive from Dhoon Bay.

The agency has been working with local farmers and the NFUS since 2010 to improve water quality and protect the bathing water through face-to-face visits, workshops and information sessions - resulting in many farmers adopting new practices and spending significant sums of money on additional slurry storage facilities, fencing off entire stretches of watercourses to exclude livestock, and installing alternative means of livestock watering to reach compliance.

Previous SEPA water quality improvement projects have demonstrated bold and timely action from partnership working with organisation including Scottish Government, Scottish Water, the NFUS and local authorities.15 bathing waters that had a poor classification in 2015 have improved to a sufficient or better classification in time for the 2022 Bathing Season.  

Communities and visitors to Scotland’s beaches can help protect our water environment, even when they’re not there.     

Whether you are at home, at work or on holiday, Scottish Water provides advice on how to protect the network, and Scotland’s water environment, at: scottishwater.co.uk/naturecalls