Fife beaches fail water quality tests

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ONLY four beaches in Fife are recommended for excellent water quality in the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) Good Beach Guide.

The latest version of the annual guide recommends only Pettycur, Kinghorn; Ruby Bay, Elie; Roome Bay, Crail and Tentsmuir Sands out of the 16 Fife beaches tested for water quality.

Two others – Burntisland, and Elie Harbour and Earlsferry – were given a guideline rating, the MCS standard for higher water quality.

Black Sands and Silver Sands, both Aberdour; Harbour Beach, Kinghorn; Seafield, Kirkcaldy; Leven; Billow Ness, Anstruther, Kingsbarns, and East Sands and West Sands, both St Andrews – received a mandatory rating, meaning they met the minimum water quality standard.

The beach at Lower Largo was the only one to fail, meaning it didn’t even meet the minimum European standard, which will be even stricter in two years.

Across Scotland, 38.5 per cent of beaches reached the recommended standard – well above the 25 per cent figure for Fife.

Wet summer

Last year’s wet summer has been blamed for the deterioration in water quality, but the MCS has warned more needs to be done or beaches will end up being closed to bathers.

Calum Duncan, MCS Scotland programme manager, said: “Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden sands could be at risk.

“These latest figures must be a wake-up call to the Scottish Government, Scottish water and local authorities who must all play a part in finding a solution to this issue. If we don’t all work together now, the impacts could be a major blow to the tourist economy if, after 2015, some beaches could be closed to bathers if they repeatedly fail basic standards.”

Heavy rain and flooding caused an increase in the amount of bacteria and viruses ending up in bathing waters. Pollution originated from a variety of sources, including agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, misconnected plumbing, septic tanks and dog faeces.

The MCS says many bathers may not be aware they are putting their health at risk as much of this kind of water 
pollution can’t be seen, if even you’re swimming it in.

Bathing in polluted waters can result in ear, nose and throat infections, or even gastroenteritis.