95% of Scottish bathing waters meet or exceed European standards


The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) which monitors bathing quality of waters – including the sea, inland lochs and rivers – has released the latest data showing that 95% of Scottish bathing areas achieved “mandatory” quality or better during the summer season, covering the 107 days from 1 June to 15 September.  

Positively, nearly half of Scotland’s 83 official bathing waters met the more demanding “guideline” standards for water quality.

It is accepted heavy summer rains in Scotland can have detrimental effects on bathing water quality via agricultural run-off and overflows from drains, yet only four beaches (Lossiemouth East in Moray, Sandyhills in Dumfries and Galloway, Irvine in Ayrshire and Eyemouth in the Scottish Borders) failed to meet the European standards this summer period despite the wet weather.

“Mandatory” quality is considered to have been attained in official sites where a large number of people go bathing and no permanent advice against bathing has been issued.

Environmental quality manager Calum McPhail said: “Whilst it is always disappointing to see any failed water quality sample, this season’s success stories should also be celebrated.  Monifeith, which was a new location added this year after being put forward for designation with strong local community support, achieved a clear guideline status.  Also Ettrick Bay on Bute, for years one of our worst-performing bathing waters, comfortably passed and indeed was only two results short of meeting the more stringent guideline standard.”

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said: “Good water quality is important for our bathing waters.  Clean, safe beaches are essential to tourism and the leisure pursuits of the people of Scotland, which provide valuable income to many seaside communities.  It is good to see our world-leading electronic message signs continue to provide accurate information, to beach users, on the quality of the bathing water.”