Luss Bay on Loch Lomondside pictured from the air. Picture by Myre Media

By Bill Heaney

Happy Sunday. Happy Sunday/Monday Bank Holiday Weekend. Well, it was until the news broke that if you choose to take a trip up to Luss to enjoy your break with some wild swimming in Loch Lomond then the advice is forget it.

This beautiful village, one of the loveliest in Scotland, stinks. It’s one of two freshwater bathing spots – the other is at Dores beach on the north-east shore of Loch Ness – also returned samples with very high levels of the bacteria. 

Raw and untreated sewage is the real monster, both at Loch Ness and Loch Lomond.

A water-skier pursuing the popular sport on Loch Lomond.

Luss Bay and the Bonnie Banks are two places to give a body swerve to today if you want to avoid picking up sewage sickness from pollution.

Luss Bay – a popular location for water sports enthusiasts on the west shore of Loch Lomond – returned two samples where water breached limits. A sample taken on 12 June found concentrations of E.Coli which were nearly seven times higher than the safe limit.

Pollution at Luss comes from surface water washing into the loch during wet weather, alongside runoff from farms. Dog and gull faeces have been identified as two significant sources of the pollution there.

Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole Hamilton, pictured right,  revealed today that 50 out of 89 of Scotland’s most popular bathing waters are breaching bacteria safety limits.

Responding to an investigation published by The Ferret which found that more than half of Scotland’s most popular beaches for wild swimming were polluted with unsafe levels of sewage this summer.

In at least one of them, the faecal bacteria was found to be 50 times the legal limit due to sewer overflows.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “This shows the SNP and Greens are letting the Government-owned water company off the hook for dumping sewage into our rivers, lochs and beaches.

“It’s time ministers stopped excusing these filthy practices when levels of faecal bacteria on our beaches are reaching 50 times the safe limit. No wonder people are thinking twice before even going for a paddle.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats are leading the calls for all sewage discharges to be recorded and published to uncover the true scale of the problem, legally-binding targets to tackle sewage dumping and measures to upgrade Scotland’s Victorian sewage systems. It’s time to end the sewage scandal.”

Enthusiastic wild swimmers taking the plunge in Loch Lomond. And top of page: Wild swimmers enjoying a summer’s day swim from Luss Pier.

The Ferret’s investigation can be found here. It uncovered that:

  • “Since the start of May, 50 of the country’s 89 designated bathing waters have breached European safety limits for faecal bacteria at least once when they were tested.”
  • “Fourteen of these were among 38 swimming spots where water quality is classed as ‘excellent’ by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).”
  • “The highest concentrations of faecal bacteria this summer were found at Lower Largo beach in Fife. Levels there were found to be at least 50 times the safe limit on three separate occasions.”
  • “Two freshwater bathing spots – Luss Bay on the banks of Loch Lomond and Dores beach on the north-east shore of Loch Ness – also returned samples with very high levels of the bacteria.”

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