Thursday, May 26, 2011

A seaside award but no mention in the MCS good beach guide

The image shows the Highland Beaches that made it into the Marine Conservation Society's Good Beach Guide 2011. We don't get a mention, here's how the MCS work out which beaches to recommend:
"MCS Recommended is our top standard for excellent water quality. To achieve this standard beaches must meet the European Guideline standard, ALL samples must pass the European Mandatory standard (compared to the 95% pass rate required by the European Guideline standard) and local continuous sewage discharges must be properly treated.
The European Union’s Bathing Water Directive (76/160/EEC) sets standards for water quality at popular UK beaches that have been designated as bathing waters because they attract large numbers of bathers. ‘Designated’ bathing sites water samples must be taken regularly (typically once a week, generally totaling 20 samples per bathing water season1) by the respective environment agency2.
In order to meet this Directive’s Mandatory standard 95% of samples taken from a particular beach must contain no more than 10,000 total coliforms per 100ml of sea water, and no more than 2,000 faecal coliforms per 100ml of sea water. Total and faecal coliforms are used to indicate the presence of pollution from human sewage and/or livestock (e.g. cows, sheep and pigs) waste. An increase in any of these bacteria indicates a decrease in the quality of the bathing water.
The Directive’s Guideline standard is 20 times as strict as its Mandatory standard. For a bathing water to comply with the Guideline standard, the Directive’s Mandatory standard must be met and 80% of the samples taken from a particular beach must contain no more than 500 total coliforms per 100ml of sea water, and no more than 100 faecal coliforms per 100ml of sea water. Additionally 90% of these samples must contain no more than 100 faecal streptococci per 100ml of sea water."
More information here.

Readers of the Nairnshire Telegraphe will have seen that Nairn has received its eighteenth seaside award from Keep Scotland Beautiful. We're not a Blue Flag beach with them however, you can see which beaches in Scotland are here.

Two organisations two different standards. How much does it affect Nairn? The Marine Conservation Society has a big profile with its annual Good Beach Guide but just how many families look up the minutiae of the local beach before heading to Nairn? Nairn can be very unlucky too if the storm drains empty into the river during heavy rain in the lead-up to a SEPA test of water quality. Flags and awards and recommendations for Nairn beaches are not a new issue and will probably remain a subject of debate for many years to come.

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