New EU health rules will see some beaches in Galloway havinge to display signs warning against swimming from June 1 due to the water quality.
Testing carried out by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency as part of an EU Bathing Water Directive labelled Mossyard, Dhoon Bay and Rockcliffe as having ‘poor’ water quality, potentially affecting tourism.
Calum McPhail, SEPA Environmental Quality manager said: “Due to the much tighter water quality standards in the new European classification system, which uses four years of monitoring data to provide a more consistent picture of water quality, Dhoon Bay and Mossyard have both been rated as having a ‘poor’ EU water quality classification.
“A significant contributor to Mossyard’s ‘poor’ classification is a single exceptionally high result in 2012 which is part of the rolling four year dataset used to calculate the 2016 classification. This result will not be included in the 2017 classification, which will use data from 2013 to 2016 and the bathing water is expected to progress to a ‘sufficient’ classification at that time.
“SEPA uses a priority catchment approach to reducing sources of rural diffuse pollution from land use activities in specific areas across Scotland. Dhoon Bay bathing water sits within the Stewarty Coastal priority catchment area. Improvement work within this catchment started in 2010 and is currently ongoing.
“We would like to remind the public that these are still fantastic beaches to visit and that a ‘poor’ classification does not necessarily mean that water quality is continually poor. Scottish bathing waters have been increasing in number and improving in quality since our regulation and monitoring of EU bathing waters began in 1988. We are committed to building on this progress, and to continue to work with the Scottish Government and our key partner organisations to help all bathing waters to avoid ‘poor’ classifications by 2020.”
A Scottish Water spokesperson said: “Wherever SEPA reported a significant bathing water sample result, Scottish Water undertook investigation and found our assets were working satisfactorily without failure.”
A VisitScotland spokesperson commented: “It is very disappointing to hear that the water quality on some beaches in Galloway has not met SEPA bathing water standards and we will be discussing the potential impact this could have on tourism with the local authority and organisations involved. Dumfries & Galloway has over 200 miles of wonderful sweeping coastline offering a vast range of activities so it is an incredibly important tourism asset and contributor to our regional economy.
“Marine recreation and tourism expenditure in Scotland is estimated to amount to £3.7 billion per year and The Scottish Marine Recreation and Tourism Survey highlighted that £1.3 billion of expenditure is generated from specialist marine activities including wildlife watching, sailing, kayaking, surfing and angling whilst general recreation and tourism like beach combing, short walks and coastal cycling generated £2.4 billion.
“We would encourage visitors to go to the SEPA website for research on all bathing water information across Scotland to ensure they are well informed before travelling to the destinations.”