Bute beach meets top water quality standard for first time

Ettrick Bay may not be thronged with quite as many visitors as in Bute's holiday heyday, but the beach remains one of the island's most popular attractions - and has now met EU guideline standards for bathing water quality for the first time. Here crowds gather on Saturday, September 20, 2014 to watch the Baird of Bute Festival's fly-past of light aircraft over the beach.
Ettrick Bay may not be thronged with quite as many visitors as in Bute's holiday heyday, but the beach remains one of the island's most popular attractions - and has now met EU guideline standards for bathing water quality for the first time. Here crowds gather on Saturday, September 20, 2014 to watch the Baird of Bute Festival's fly-past of light aircraft over the beach.

Bute’s most popular beach has met European guideline standards on water quality for the first time ever, according to official statistics released this week.

Ettrick Bay was among 46 officially-designated bathing beaches across Scotland to meet the top EU standard, following measurements taken by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency between June 1 and September 15.

The bay has met the minimum EU standard every year since 2010, having failed in nine of the 11 years since testing began in 1999, but this is the first year the bathing water at the beach has been found to meet the tougher ‘guideline’ quality indicators.

Of the 20 measurements taken at Ettrick Bay during the summer, 17 met the ‘guideline’ levels and two the mandatory standard.

One failure was recorded, on Wednesday, July 16, following heavy rain which led to more agricultural run-off from fields into the burns around the bay.

However, because SEPA’s electronic signs at the beach predicted poor water quality and advised against bathing, and the follow-up sample nine days later comfortably met the guideline standards, the July 16 sample was deemed to be eligible for discounting from the overall results.

This is the last time reporting of bathing water quality around Scotland will take its present form, as a new EU directive featuring tougher quality standards and a different classification system comes into force in 2015.

Only two of Scotland’s 84 officially-designated bathing beaches failed to meet either the mandatory or guideline standard in 2014.

Calum McPhail, SEPA’s head of environmental quality, said: “Whether it’s working with local farmers and land managers to reduce agricultural run-off or working with Scottish Water to identify improvements to their infrastructure, every year has brought further steps towards better water quality.

“That work will continue in 2015 and beyond.”