Scotland’s bathing water quality continues to improve with 38 out of 87 (44%) rated as ‘excellent’ for 2023, according to new figures issued by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
It said this is the highest number ever and highlights “sustained improvements in bathing water quality, achieved through partnership projects.”
Overall bathing water quality has seen ongoing improvements since 2015, when tighter standards first came into force. For next season, 85 sites will meet or exceed the sufficient classification.
Since 2015, 15 bathing waters have improved their classification from poor to sufficient or better.
Sources of pollution at Scotland’s bathing waters are often complex and interlinked, requiring action from a range of organisations and people.
SEPA said progress is being made through working with partners and communities to coordinate activities and identify actions to address water quality challenges, particularly around diffuse pollution, sewage and urban sources.
Ruth Stidson, SEPA’s principal scientist for bathing waters, said: “Seeing the long-term bathing water quality improvements reflected in this year’s results demonstrates that the sustained hard work by public bodies, private businesses and communities has made a real improvement across Scotland.
“More of our bathing waters will be rated ‘excellent’ than ever before and, overall, 98% are meeting strict environmental standards. We have the largest number of designated bathing waters on record which is good news for the increasing popularity of wild swimming and the communities, businesses and visitors who enjoy our coastlines.”
Simon Parsons, Director of Strategic Customer Service Planning, Scottish Water, said: “Scottish Water is committed to continuing to support the protection and improvement of Scotland’s rivers, coastal waters and beaches.
“Last December, we published our improving urban waters route map announcing plans to invest up to half a billion pounds more in Scotland’s waste water network to deliver further improvements and ensure that Scotland’s rivers, beaches and urban waters are free from sewage related debris.
“Our customers can play a huge part in preventing debris in rivers and on beaches. Our national campaign ‘Nature Calls’ urges customers not to flush wet wipes (and other items) down the toilet and we are calling for a complete ban on the sale of wet wipes containing plastic.”