Treatment plant blamed for poor water quality figures at Nairn beaches
WATER cleanliness at Nairn’s beaches needs to be tackled urgently in the wake of poor ratings from Scotland’s environment agency, according to community leaders.
Both Nairn Central and Nairn East were given poor water quality ratings by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) in its latest round of national tests, meaning the two beaches were among just 17 across Scotland to fail.
The news comes one year on from the beaches in Nairn receiving higher ratings under the old system. But new classifications for water cleanliness, which take completely different measurements, have recently been introduced. They have resulted in much tighter quality standards being set.
The new measurements focus on particular bacteria present in water samples. Sepa said it was disappointed that 17 beaches had scored poorly. But there was good news in Rosemarkie and Dores, whose beaches both received good water quality ratings under the new system.
Tommy Hogg, from Nairn River Community Council, said he is not surprised by the findings for Nairn, and believes many visitors have noticed the poor state of the water during the summer months.
He claims that debris and raw sewage is polluting the water with overflowing drains contributing to the problem.
"At times it has been really disgusting, there is all sorts in the water including sewage and sanitary products," he said.
"The problem is that the treatment plant in Nairn is working to over-capacity and pure raw sewage is now coming into the water with overflowing drains.
"It is particularly bad when we have heavy rain and the water has got to the stage where people are beginning to notice.
"It is a really serious problem and will soon reach a stage where you just don’t go near the water, because you don’t know what is in it."
Mr Hogg believes extensive building in Nairn will only contribute to the problem, and he has called for a new system to be introduced at the treatment works.
"The pipes are just overloaded and we need to think fast. So far people have not listened and this has been coming for a while," he said.
Councillor Liz MacDonald has also called for change and believes the answer lies with the treatment works.
"Heavy rain has a big impact and the drains overflow, I would like to see more investment in the plant and managing our water in general," she said.
Sepa has said it will work towards bringing both beaches up to standard under the new regulations and admitted standards are much more stringent then in previous years.
A spokesman said: "On most days both bathing waters at Nairn are very clean, but the water quality at both sites is subject to deterioration during and after heavy rainfall.
"The new Bathing Water Directive has much stricter water quality standards, which are based on four years of monitoring data rather than a single season’s results.
"This gives an overall more consistent picture of water quality condition when assigning the status of a bathing water area.
"We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and key partners to protect, manage and improve areas where water quality is at risk as we work towards bringing the bathing waters up to the new standards."