We have made considerable strides in improving the quality of Scotland's bathing waters through investment and innovation, but much more remains to be done. The last bathing waters strategy document - Scotland's bathing waters A strategy for improvement - published in March 2002, set out a range of actions to better understand and tackle poor water quality that affects some waters. These actions have been delivered and we now have a revised Bathing Water Directive. The time is therefore right to refocus our approach and set out clearly how to move forward.
The revision of the Bathing Water Directive brings significant challenges for us, and this strategy document maps out how our thinking has developed, and how we propose to meet these new targets. Methods of managing the water environment have evolved significantly since 1976, when the original Bathing Water Directive was introduced. In Scotland, the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 has redefined the nature of water resource management in Scotland. In transposing the revised Bathing Water Directive we will continue that trend, so that our actions combine to protect the quality of water environment as a whole as well as the health of those who enjoy our lochs and coastline for bathing.
We already work closely with SEPA, Scottish Water, local authorities, the agricultural sector and the various organisations that participate in Clean Coast Scotland. Without their involvement, the successes of the past four years could not have been achieved. The revised Directive is notable not just for the increasingly strict water quality standards it introduces, but also for the emphasis on active management of waters and on engagement with the wider public on a range of issues. We must therefore not only redouble our efforts to improve water quality, but also address the human element of the picture, getting across key messages regarding safety, water quality and amenity at the sites visited by the public. To do so, we will need to deepen and widen our relationships with existing partners, and identify new participants that can help us bring clear and distinctive messages to the public.
Warning bathers about potential problems with water quality is a key feature of the revised Directive, and as a result of the work done to date in Scotland we find ourselves at the forefront of public information provision. Using electronic signs to inform bathers about water quality is a major advance and one which has seen us working at our best - in partnership with others on innovative and creative solutions to issues.
We recognise that many challenges lie ahead, but commit ourselves fully to building upon the successes of the past four years, towards a future in which Scotland will have cleaner and healthier bathing waters, to be enjoyed by all.
ROSS FINNIE MSP
Minister for Environment
and Rural Development
RHONA BRANKIN MSP
Deputy Minister for Environment
and Rural Development
Phone: 0131 244 0205
Environmental Quality Division
Area 3H (south)
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