In spite of having a 3* Excellent rating from Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) faecal contamination on 24 August at the West Sands in St Andrews was more than 20 times the safety limit. On that particular day, sea water off the beach contained more than 10,000 viable E.Coli gut bacteria per 100ml. According to Sepa, the “principal risks” were from a combination of sewer overflows and farm runoff.
On the same day levels of E Coli at Seafield in Kirkcaldy were similarly high, where the risks came from overflowing sewers.
Lower Largo and Eyemouth beaches recorded the highest levels of contamination in Scotland this summer
Heavy rain causes public sewers to flood and washed animal faeces off the land, resulting in water concentrations of bacteria that could cause stomach, ear, nose and throat infections. Swimmers have been warned not to take to the water off Scotland’s beaches for a couple of days after heavy rain because of the risk of sewage discharges.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency advice came as figures reported by The Ferret news website showed more than half of Scotland’s most popular beaches were contaminated with sewage in breach of safety limits this summer.
A total of 49 of 87 designated bathing waters recorded levels of faecal bacteria since May that could endanger health.
Scottish Water told The Ferret it had installed spillage meters at 354 of its 3,600 sewage overflows. It is planning to fit 1,000 new meters by the end of 2024 where the risks are the highest.