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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 23:41 GMT 00:41 UK
Beach water quality takes a dive
Water quality standards were measured not beach management
Water quality standards were measured not beach management
More Scottish beaches are failing European statutory water quality standards, a watchdog has said.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said that 14 of the 118 beaches it monitored had failed to meet the standards, up from eight last year.

The number of beaches recommended by MCS in its Good Beach Guide 2005 fell to 50, from 56 last year.

Scotland experienced its wettest August since 1956, causing problems with pollution being diverted into the sea.

The south west of Scotland was particularly affected by diffuse pollution.

Treated sewage

MCS said that after heavy rainfall many sewage systems avoid floodwater overwhelming local treatment plants by diverting untreated waste and discharging directly into rivers and coastal waters.

Three of the Q"failed" beaches were in Dumfries and Galloway, six in Ayrshire and two in Argyll and Bute.

Heavy rain can temporarily increase levels of bacterial pollution in the sea, with a consequent risk to bathers' health
Thomas Bell

There were also two "failed" beaches in Fife and one in Aberdeenshire.

Fife also had 11 of the "recommended" beaches and Aberdeenshire had three.

The Highland Council area had the most "recommended" beaches with 17.

There were three "recommended" beaches in the Borders, six in East Lothian, one in Edinburgh and one in Dundee.

Angus had five, Moray one and there were two "recommended" beaches in Argyll and Bute.

Results for Scotland were better than in the 2003 guide when MCS recommended just 33 beaches.

The MCS Good Beach Guide focuses entirely on water quality standards and the risk of sewage pollution, rather than beach management.

It recommends beaches in the Good Beach Guide if they meet the guideline European water quality standard and are not affected by inadequately treated sewage.

MCS coastal pollution officer Thomas Bell said: "MCS is urging the government and Scottish Executive, and working with partners, to provide better public information on all bathing beaches, advising swimmers that heavy rain can temporarily increase levels of bacterial pollution in the sea, with a consequent risk to bathers' health."

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