Bathing waters

Status of bathing water microbiology: No overall trend with few or no concerns but some local concerns

(Baxter et al, 2011)

Bathing waters are areas popular for recreation and are monitored to indicate how safe the water is for public bathing, thereby safeguarding the health of users. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment Agency (EA) conduct regular monitoring of faecal indicator organisms during bathing season to provide a water safety indication. The indicator organisms, Escherichia coli/ E.coli and intestinal enterococci, can cause gastrointestinal illness and ear infections. Observations are also made for cyanobacterial (blue-green algae) blooms, macroalgae (seaweed) and microscopic algae (marine phytoplankton), along with other waste which is observed outside of these categories. Monitoring results are made publicly available in order to allow beach users to make informed healthy choices when bathing. There are seven designated bathing waters on the Scottish side of the Solway and two on the English Solway.

Bathing water profiles throughout Scotland can be explored through SEPA’s bathing waters website section, and is accessible through the data explorer tool on Scotland’s Environment Web. For English bathing waters data and bathing water profiles are available through the EA’s bathing water quality data explorer.

Sewage services are highly relevant to bathing water quality, as incidents and outfalls can cause pollution, litter and damage to bathing water quality, and water quality more generally. These services are provided (primarily) through Scottish Water in Scotland (a statutory corporation accountable through the Scottish Government), and through the United Utilities public limited water company in Cumbria.

The risk of outfall pollution events is particular high after heavy rainfall due to the combined sewage pipes used by both Scottish Water and United Utilities. The combined sewage overflows are designed to release overflow water through a separate pipe during these events. These overflow systems are described by United Utilities; “With a sewer overflow in place, the rain water, mixed with sewage, will rise inside the sewer and eventually enter a separate pipe which runs off the main sewer and flows into a river or the sea” (United Utilities, n.d.).

Solway designated bathing waters;

  • Brighouse Bay (Scotland)
  • Carrick (Scotland)
  • Dhoon Bay (Scotland)
  • Mossyard (Scotland)
  • Rockcliffe (Scotland)
  • Sandyhills (Scotland)
  • Southerness (Scotland)
  • Allonby (England)
  • St Bees Head (England)


Image; Bathing Water Quality Sign at Sandyhills. © G. Reid/ Solway Firth Partnership

Bathing waters

Monitoring designated bathing water quality

All designated bathing waters around the UK are monitored throughout the bathing season, (1st July – 15th September in Scotland and 15th May to 30th September in England) by analysing water samples taken from the sites.

Sampling results are published within a few days of being taken. In Scotland they are published online or via the bathing waters electronic boards (if there is a sign on site). SEPA also posts daily real-time water quality predictions throughout the bathing season for some sites (Brighouse Bay, Dhoon Bay Rockcliffe, Sandyhills & Southerness get daily predictions in the Scottish Solway). The EA, alternatively, have the Pollution Risk Forecast during the bathing season, providing forecasts (valid until midnight on the day of issue) for bathing waters, considering the increased pollution risk due to predictable factors such as weather.

The sites monitored by SEPA and EA are designated under the Bathing Waters Directive (Directive  2006/7/EC) in order to safeguard the health of the public at popular or promoted areas for summer bathing. This is not an exhaustive list of all the waters the public can visit and bathe in. There are other safe waters which are not monitored, but there are also waters which are not monitored which are unsafe to bathe in. Bathing at a designated bathing water site gives bathers confidence in the quality of the water, which can help encourage bathing and recreational activitiessafeguarding the health of visitors. Some waters which are not designated as bathing waters voluntarily monitor water quality, however those that choose to do this are not required to follow the standards set by the Directive.

The EU has had rules for safeguarding public health in regard to bathing waters since the 1970’s, through the 1976 Bathing Water Directive (Directive 76/160/EEC), with the Bathing Waters Directive being introduced to simplify and update these rules. The new system introduced through the 2006 directive requires the testing and monitoring of two bacteria (Escherichia coli/ E.coli and intestinal Enterococci) and informing the public of the water quality, pollution risks, and bathing water area through bathing water profiles. Information should be publicised in a timely manner throughout the bathing season. There are 4 quality classifications; satisfactory, poor, good, and excellent. The classification a water receives is based on the 4 previous years of gathered data to provide an indication of ‘normal’ water quality for each location.

Bathing waters are also classed as protected areas under Annex IV of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) as well as assisting in progress towards achieving the Marine Strategy Framework Directive‘s (MSFD) ‘good environmental status’ goal.

Under this system of monitoring bathing waters there are risks associated with failing to reach minimum standards, with ‘sufficient’ being the minimum standard bathing waters need to meet. Article 5 of the Directive highlights these risks, the financial implications of identification of the reasons for failing to achieve sufficient standard and improving preventing or reducing it may be costly. If the water is classed as ‘poor’ for five consecutive years there is the need to permanently prohibit bathing or permanently advise against bathing.

Many other negative impacts can be linked to the failure to meet quality standards. Local communities and visitors not only lose the amenity and security of good water quality at bathing waters, but tourism may suffer, local businesses may have reduced visitors and customers, and recreational activities and the businesses linked to those activities locally may also suffer.

The minimum thresholds for coastal water monitoring in both Scotland and England are as follows (note that inland waters have different threshold levels for monitoring);

Classification Thresholds
Intestinal Enterococci (IE)
Escherichia coli (EC)
Confidence level
Coastal Bathing Waters
Excellent EC: ≤250 colony forming units/100ml ; IE: ≤100 colony forming units/100ml 95th percentile
Good EC: ≤500 colony forming units/100ml ; IE: ≤200 colony forming units/100ml 95th percentile
Sufficient EC: ≤500 colony forming units/100ml ; IE: ≤185 colony forming units/100ml 90th percentile
Poor means that the values are worse than the sufficient

Source; Environment Agency (n.d.)

These minimum thresholds are provided in the Bathing Waters Directive, and are reiterated in The Bathing Waters (Scotland) Regulations 2008 and The Bathing Water Regulations 2013 which transpose the Bathing Waters Directive into Scottish and English law respectively.


Risks to Water Quality

Water quality can change frequently due to a variety of factors such as pollution and rainfall and therefore it is important for beach users to keep up to date with bathing water monitoring results.

There are several land-based issues which can negatively impact water quality at a designated bathing water including surrounding rivers and waterbodies, surface runoff and drainage (after rain), heavy rainfall, sewage outflows, and sewage. These are issues which are not exclusively within a specific range of the water body, as pollution or issues with other waters can flow into and impact designated bathing waters. Water catchments draining into the designated bathing waters can impact its quality. The management of surrounding waters, land, and pollution all impact bathing waters, and therefore integration of land and water control of pollution is very important. A disconnect between the two raises the possibility of pollution related issues in bathing waters and beyond.

The aesthetic pleasure, and potentially the health, of bathing waters is also negatively impacted by marine litter. As these areas are popular summer bathing spots, coastal and marine litter may be increased as a product of careless visitors, or be washed in on a flood tide. If there is a noticeable amount of litter on the beach at bathing waters it may discourage visitors. With the knowledge that bathing waters attract more visitors, and therefore more litter produced by visitors, bathing waters often have bins to collect the increased volume of litter and encourage responsible disposal of litter. Litter is recorded in the bathing water profiles if seen and significant enough. For more information on marine litter around the Solway Firth see the Marine Litter section of the Solway Review.


Abnormal Incidents and Short-Term Pollution

There are rules laid out in the Bathing Waters Directive (Directive 2006/7/EC) in the case of abnormal incidents and short term pollution events.

The Directive allows for the suspension of sampling during an ‘abnormal’ incident. Water quality is based on statistics over a 4 year period (unless a ‘step change’ which is a significant step taken to improve the water quality of an area where monitoring resets and begins from the year of the change), and so an ‘abnormal’ situation could affect the future classifications for the next 4 years.

The Directive also allows for the disregarding of samples due to short-term pollution events. Short term pollution events are not expected to last more than three days (72 hours). There are other stipulations regarding short-term pollution events, such as the need to include details of anticipated short term pollution in bathing water profiles should short-term pollution be identified as a risk for the bathing water (Annex III) for a sample confirming the end of the event (Annex IV).


Image; © European Commission – European Atlas of the Seas Interactive Mapping

Bathing waters

Catchment Areas



Both Allonby and St Bees Head designated bathing waters are within the North West River Basin District, in the operational catchment of North West Region Coastal Waters. The North West river basin district management plan is available here.

The surface water catchments where water drains into the bathing water, are available for in the bathing water profiles; Allonby & St Bees Head.

This Defra magic map shows English high priority areas for water quality (zoom in to explore this data). If the layer is not displaying search the layers for ‘Countryside Stewardship Water Quality Priority Areas (England)’. The Countryside Stewardship scheme is grant funding open to a variety of land owners and managers in England to assist in paying for work addressing environmental priorities, with a proportion of the overall funding for improvement of water quality and flooding resilience. It helps improve water in relation to diffuse pollution from rural sources.



SEPA has a River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for the whole Solway-Tweed district. All of the bathing waters on the Scottish Solway Coast are within the Solway-Tweed district. Fourteen priority catchments were identified across the whole of Scotland as first cycle priority catchments (RBMP1) for tackling diffuse pollution, 2 of which are within the Solway-Tweed district, and both of which are in Dumfries and Galloway (Stewartry Coastal and Galloway Coastal). Failing to meet environmental aims, these 14 priority catchments have a dedicated liaison officer who works with local land owners and managers to resolve identified issues and non-compliance with the general binding rules. These rules provide guidance on how to conduct certain activities, which could cause pollution, thereby protecting the bathing water. The priority catchment mitigation method is outlined in the Rural Diffuse Pollution Plan for Scotland 2015 – 2021, along with the approach to 43 additional RBMP2 catchments. These second cycle catchments were the result of an expansion to the programme in 2015 due to the progress which had been made in reducing diffuse pollution in the RBMP1 catchments. See the map of RBMP2 priority catchment areas here (click ‘second cycle priority catchments), showing priority catchments across Scotland.


Image; Allonby in windy weather. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Bathing waters

Solway Firth bathing waters classification

Carrick bathing water sign

Bathing water classifications are set at the end of a season and are applied to the entire bathing season the following year.

Visit each individual site data page on either the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment Agency (EA) websites (individual data pages hyperlinked below) for more information on each bathing water site, such as exact water quality sample results, as well as any notable observations on cyanobacterial (blue-green algae) blooms, macroalgae (seaweed) and microscopic algae (marine phytoplankton).

Brighouse Bay bathing water sign and facilities

The failure to meet standards at Brighouse Bay, Dhoon Bay, Rockcliffe and Sandyhills in recent years may be as a result of wet weather in this period which increased run-off from agricultural land and surface water urban drainage. Average summer rainfall across these catchments is 356mm compared to an average of 331mm across Scotland (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, 2020a). SEPA advises not to go bathing 1-2 days after periods of heavy rainfall at these sites. In 2021 concerns have been raised over the water quality at Solway bathing waters with Dhoon Bay, Rockcliffe and Brighouse Bay being classified as ‘poor’. A BBC News article discusses the reasons behind why these bathing waters have been classed as ‘poor’, what is being done to help reduce the pollution, and other information, available here.

Three samples were taken for each of the Scottish bathing waters in 2020. SEPA samples most bathing waters 18 times during the season, sometimes less if in a remote area (10 times) or with proven consistency of excellence (5 times). Alternatively, the EA take up to 20 samples from sites throughout bathing season. Allonby was tested 10 times, and St Bees Head was tested 3 times in the 2020 season, significantly less than in previous years (Allonby and St Bees Head were each tested 20 times in 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016). This reduction is likely for reasons due to COVID-19. Classifications were not made for English bathing waters in 2020 as a result of the impacts COVID-19 had on sample testing.

Scottish Solway bathing water classifications Potential Issues with reaching ‘sufficient’ quality
Beach 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2020*
Brighouse Bay
Good Sufficient Poor Poor Poor
  • 28 warnings against bathing issued in 2017
  • Some human and some animal faecal pollution
  • Sewage effluent discharge at Point of Green
  • Agriculture is the main use of the catchment (dairy farms)
  • Agricultural run-off and short-term pollution after heavy rainfall washing faecal material into the sea.
  • Urban land use around Borgue and Kirkcudbright
Carrick Good Sufficient Good Good Sufficient
Dhoon Bay Poor Sufficient Poor Poor Poor
  • 70 warnings against bathing issued in 2017
  • Human and animal faecal pollution
  • Sewage effluent discharge at the north of Jock’s Bay
  • Agriculture is the main use of the catchment. Uplands sheep and beef farming. Mixed grazing and intensive dairy farming
  • SEPA are investigating the impact of septic tanks and private sewage treatment works on water quality
  • Few scattered farms and houses, Kirkcudbright is 5km to the northeast
  • Caravan and campsite are close to the bathing water
Mossyard Poor Good Good Good Good
Rockcliffe Poor Sufficient Poor Poor Poor
  • 85 warnings against bathing issued in 2017
  • Some human and some animal faecal pollution
  • Sewage effluent discharge at the north end of the beach with a sewage treatment works
  • There is a sewage pumping station and emergency overflow south of Glenluffin
  • There is a communal modern septic tank at Palnackie
  • Agriculture is the main use of the catchment. Uplands sheep and beef farming, lowlands mixed grazing and arable farming with some woodland coverage
  • Diffuse agricultural pollution occurs in the Mill Burn on an unnamed tributary
    • Work on farms was completed in 2017 to address this. Improved water quality as a result of this work is likely to be seen in several years
    • Scottish Water trials to improve Kippford sewage treatment works and improvement was found to be inconclusive
  • Rockcliffe and Kippford villages are main urban uses
Sandyhills Poor Poor Poor Poor Good
  • 42 warnings against bathing issued in 2017
  • Some human and some animal faecal pollution
  • Sewage effluent discharge at Saltpan rocks and upstream at Barnhourie Burn
  • Grassland is the main use of the catchment. Uplands sheep and beef farming, lowlands intensive dairy farming
  • 1% urban use from Sandyhills Village
  • The Centre for Research into Environment and Health connected microbial pollutants between nearby rivers and bathing waters.
    • Sandyhills sediments act as a microbial store. Tidal movements and remobilisation of sediments are thought to affect water quality
  • SEPA monitors compliance of private sewage treatment from a nearby caravan park and chalet
Southerness Good Excellent Excellent Good Good

*The 2020 classifications, calculated at the end of the 2019 bathing season, are available here.

Table data source; Each separate bathing water profile available through; Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (n.d.a). Data for each bathing water profile available through clicking on the bathing water the reader wishes to explore.


English Solway bathing water compliance results

Potential Issues with reaching ‘sufficient’ quality

Beach 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019  
Allonby Poor Sufficient Good Good Good
  • 53 pollution risk warnings were issued in 2019
  • 17 pollution risk warnings were issued in 2020
  • 2009/10 EA investigated caravan and camping sites in the catchment to identify failing sewage treatment systems
  •  Allonby catchment surveyed by EA in 2011 to identify contamination sources and improve where needed
  • 2012 United Utilities (supported by EA) assessed which inputs can impact bathing water quality by developing a detailed model of the Solway Estuary and the north Cumbrian coast. The River Ellen and Allonby Sewage Treatment Works were identified as the main impacts on bathing water quality. This information has been used to inform the United Utilities investment programme which ran from 2015 to 2020 (the plan is now in the 2020-2025 run).
  • 2016-19 sewage debris not noted on visits, litter noted on 57% of visits but not to an ‘objectionable’ degree
  • River Ellen and Allonby beck (and other smaller rivers) could reduce the Allonby bathing water quality after heavy rainfall and increased runoff
  • ‘Sea Change’ project led to new, and upgrades to, treatment works and removal of storm overflows
  • Allonby Sewage treatment Works discharges to Allonby Bay, upgraded in 2003 to ensure the discharge receives disinfection to protect bathing water quality.
  • United Uitilities made upgrades made to Allerby, Edderside and Crosscanonby Sewage Treatment Works (discharge into Allonby Bay) in 2005
  • The storm overflow from Allonby Sewage Treatment Works was improved in March 2016.
  • United Utilities investigated, and where issues found taken action to resolve, a misconnection (waste water pipes connected to surface water drains instead of the foul water sewerage system) close to Allonby bathing water under their improvement programme in 2015.
  • Sellafield nuclear site discharges into the Irish Sea –  dramatic reduction in aerial and liquid discharges over the last three decades.
  • Between 2016-2019 phytoplankton (microscopic algae) was not noted at this site, seaweed (macroalgae) was assessed as being sufficient to be objectionable for 1% of visits, with 28% of visits noting the presence of seaweed (macroalgae).
St Bees Good Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
  • 18 pollution risk warnings were issued in 2019
  • 9 pollution risk warnings were issued in 2020
  • Sellafield nuclear site discharges into the Irish Sea
  • Sources of pollution for St Bees assessed by the Environment Agency in 1999
  • 2016-19 no sewage related debris noted, but litter present on 62% of visits, and at an objectionable level at 3% of visits
  • Bow beck and Rottington Beck flow into the sea at St Bees Head, if there are issues upstream they may impact water quality
  • Braystones Sewage Treatment Works lets out 8km south of the bathing water
  • There is a storm overflow and an emergency overflow at St Bees Pumping Station discharging at Pow beck. There is also an emergency overflow at Nethertown
  • United Utilities plan to (2015-2020) install equipment to all storm overflows close to bathing waters to monitor spills to the environment.
  • Survey work has been undertaken to identify misconnection issues in the catchments surrounding Seascale (south of St Bees Head)
  • Between 2016 and 2019 phytoplankton (microscopic algae) was not noted at this site, seaweed (macroalgae) was present in 69% of visits, and objectionable in 1%. St Bees Head has a history of large amounts of seaweed.
  • During the 2020 bathing water season there was a sewage related pollution incident at St Bees designated bathing water lasting less than 24 hours.

Table data source; Each separate bathing water profile available through; Environment Agency (n.d.)



Prior to the start of the 2018 bathing season, the EA de-designated Silloth as a bathing water due to:

  • Consistent low level of usage (paddling and swimming)
  • No facilities at the beach to promote bathing
  • Safety concerns over strong tidal currents running along the shoreline

Prior to the start of the 2019 bathing season, Allonby South was de-designated as bathing water. This was a decision made by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministers following an application from Allerdale Borough Council, and then public consultation, to de-designate the site on the grounds of low usage.

Bathing waters

Partnerships and tools

A number of methods are used by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment Agency (EA), in partnership with other organisations, local authorities, industry companies, etc, in order to determine bathing water pollutant sources, improve water quality, and assist in raising awareness which in turn helps drive reduction of pollution and improve bathing water quality. They also work with water companies and regulators, the agricultural community, partnerships, local communities, local authorities, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to deliver integrated landwater pollution control.


These include tools such as:

  • Water resources sustainability measures and catchment level government-funded improvements
  • Microbial source tracking (MST) analysis. 
    • MST identifies the genetic origin of pollution; human, ruminant or other derived faecal indicator organisms, if levels are large enough to be detected.

Projects and Campaigns (for example);

  • Project funding
    • ‘Sea Change’, for example, was an EA and United Utilities project in the North West (Cumbria) in the 1990’s which helped; “improve the sewerage system in the Maryport area. The scheme eliminated a large crude discharge at Maryport by passing flows south to Workington and constructed a new outfall at Maryport for storm flows, as well as building a new sewage treatment works at Allonby. The scheme also removed eight storm overflows as part of the overall Maryport sewerage scheme.” (Environment Agency, 2020)
  • The EA’s ‘Yellow Fish’ campaign
    • this campaign aims to bring attention to the damage which can be caused by disposing of waste such as oil, down drains to help reduce pollution entering rivers and other water ways. As rivers and water ways eventually enter the marine environment their quality impacts bathing water quality.


  • The Diffuse water pollution theme plan
    • a high level plan aimed at those who play a key role in water quality management in the Natura 2000 network in England. Natura 2000 is a network of Special Protection Areas and Special Areas of Conservation, for more on protected areas see the Protected Areas section of the Solway Review.
  • Scottish Water Delivery plan 2015-2021
    • Scottish Water identifies investment and maintenance to be made in water and drainage infrastructure; “Our plan is to support the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in understanding when reductions in diffuse pollution are sufficient to allow Scottish Water to deliver an improvement that will measurably improve the standard of the bathing water. We have included investment of £31.3 million to complete works commenced in the 2010 to 2015 period and to complete the strategic studies, commenced in 2010 to 2015, of assets on two rivers impacting 3 Ayrshire bathing waters and the newly designated ‘Fisherrow’ (Musselburgh) bathing water. We have included an IR18 allowance of £3.9 million to commence delivery of any solutions arising from these studies. We will also update our existing water quality models at 11 locations across Scotland at a cost of £0.3 million as new performance data becomes available. We will invest £1.7 million operating costs undertaking beach surveys to confirm whether our discharges are causing sewage related debris at designated bathing waters and clean up as appropriate.” (Scottish Water, 2014)
  • The Water Industry National Environment Programme
    • will see water companies invest £5 billion between 2020-2025 to the benefit of the natural environment due to measures the EA outlines in the programme. This includes tackling invasive species, low flows, chemical and nutrient pollution as part of delivering the outcomes for the UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan

Working with;

  • Natural England/ NatureScot
    • Example; Natural England – Catchment sensitive farming
      • Working with Natural England, the EA Catchment sensitive farming; “delivers practical solutions and targeted support to enable farmers and land managers to take voluntary action to reduce diffuse water pollution from agriculture to protect water bodies and the environment. Actions include a programme of educational events for farmers, advice to farmers and land managers, farm visits, and surveys of the area to identify pollution risks. A project is currently underway within the River Ellen catchment focusing on reducing the bathing water quality impact from farms. In 2013 funding was given for a ‘Catchment Wise’ project in the River Ellen catchment. The project is a partnership between the West Cumbria Rivers Trust, United Utilities and Natural England’s Catchment Sensitive Farming Partnership to tackle agricultural diffuse pollution in rivers and streams across the catchment. The project brings together farmers, landowners and local communities to protect water quality by considering grazing regimes, livestock housing, fencing, tree planting and advising on best practice to prevent pollution. One of the aims of the project is to improve bathing water quality in Allonby Bay.” (Environment Agency, 2020). This work takes place in ‘high’ priority areas for water quality, as already discussed above. This Defra magic map shows English high priority areas for water quality (zoom in to explore this data). If the layer is not displaying search the layers for ‘Countryside Stewardship Water Quality Priority Areas (England)’.
  • Partners
    • For example – West Cumbria Catchment Partnership
      • Raising awareness and understanding, communication and collaboration to connect people with rivers, waters and wildlife in order to work towards improving the quality of them.
  • Water companies, (England)/ Scottish Water (Scotland)
    • In England, the EA regulate and works together with water companies throughout England (United Utilities is the water company for the southern side of the Solway) to ensure the environmental performance of these companies. The EA publishes an Annual Report on the environmental performance of water companies, with United Utilities reaching a ‘good’ standard. Actions provided in this report will be helpful to the future improvement of water quality, such as; the Storm Overflows Taskforce, penalties, and the requirement for water companies to produce Pollution Incident Reduction Plans. The EA also conducts Environmental Performance Assessments to measure water companies performance. United Utilities Environmental Performance Assessment for 2019 is available here.
  • Rural land managers
    • Work with land managers in the area surrounding bathing waters is detailed in the bathing water profiles for each designated bathing water.
      • An example of this work can be found in the Rockcliffe (Scotland) bathing water profile which details that;
        Farm visits in the catchment began in 2014. These visits looked to identify diffuse pollution sources. Mitigation measures were agreed with land managers to address this. Work in this catchment was completed in 2017. Improved water quality as a result of this work is likely to be seen in several years” (Scottish Environment Protection Agency, 2020b).
      • See bathing water profiles provided in the previous page for more information.
  • Scotland’s Environment and Rural Services and SEPA’s Diffuse Pollution Management Advisory Group


There is considerable work undertaken by community groups, charities, and interest groups campaigns which are focussed on water quality and maintaining or improving quality. They provide another element to pollution data and awareness around bathing waters. One major organisation concerned with water quality is Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). SAS are very involved in the quality of water around the coastline of the UK.

SAS have a number of methods of raising awareness of water quality and also the issues and dangers of pollution. The Safer Seas Service is a national real-time pollution warning app which SAS have established notifying sea users when there has been a heavy rainfall event or sewage overflows have released untreated human waste, both of which can result in issues with water quality. The app now also allows users to report illness following time in the water which adds to SAS water quality data. Linking in with EA and SEPA data, the app also provides the daily pollution forecasts from EA and SEPA during bathing season.

SAS also recently published the 2020 Water Quality Report which is focussed on bathing waters, water quality and sewage pollution, in addition the health and climate change information. The report highlights the ongoing pollution issues around the UK for the health and wellbeing of water users.


Video; Dhoon Bay bathing water. © Solway Firth Partnership.

Bathing waters


BBC (2021). Rutherford, N. Is it safe to swim at south of Scotland’s beaches? Available here. (Accessed: 30.06.21)

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018). Bathing waters: removing Silloth from the list of designated bathing waters. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.18)

Environment Agency & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2018). £5 billion investment by water companies to benefit the natural environment. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.18)

Environment Agency (n.d.). Bathing water quality. Available here. (Accessed: 14.08.20)

Marine Management Organisation. (n.d.). Marine Planning Evidence Base. Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

Marine Scotland (n.d.). Scotland’s National Marine Plan Interactive. Available here. (Accessed: 06.08.19)

Mills, F., Sheridan, S. and Brown S. (2017). Clyde Marine Region Assessment. Clyde Marine Planning Partnership. pp 231, Available here. (Accessed: 14.05.18)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2018). Bathing water quality: Scotland. Available here. (Accessed: 14.08.18)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2016). Priority catchment areas. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.18)

Solway Firth Partnership (1996). The Solway Firth Review, Solway Firth Partnership, Dumfries. Available here. (Accessed: 23.07.19)

UK Government (2018). The reduction and prevention of agricultural diffuse pollution (England) Regulations 2018. Available here. (Accessed: 20.08.18)


In-Text References;

Baxter, J.M., Boyd, I.L., Cox, M., Donald, A.E., Malcolm, S.J., Miles, H., Miller, B., Moffat, C.F., (Editors), (2011). Scotland’s Marine Atlas: Information for the national marine plan. Marine Scotland, Edinburgh. pp 191. Available here. (Accessed: 22.07.19)

Environment Agency (2020) Bathing water profile for Allonby. Available here. (Accessed: 11.11.20)

Environment Agency (n.d.) Bathing Water Quality. Available here. (Accessed: 04.11.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2020a) Version 1.8, Bathing Water Profile for Brighouse Bay. Available here. (Accessed: 11.11.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (2020b) Version 1.7, Bathing Water Profile for Rockcliffe. Available here. (Accessed: 11.11.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (n.d.a) Bathing Waters. Available here. (Accessed: 04.11.20)

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (n.d.b) Sampling and Results. Available here. (Accessed: 04.11.20)

Scottish Water (2014) Delivery Plan 2015 – 2021. Available here. (Accessed: 09.11.20)

United Utilities (n.d.) Combined Sewer Overflows. Available here. (Accessed: 10.11.20)


Image; Southerness from Southerness Lighthouse © G. Reid/ Solway Firth Partnership