Edinburgh Portobello beach: Swimmers told it’s safe to enter water after 'pollution incident'

The SEPA warning to avoid bathing due to waste contamination has now been removed.
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Bathers and paddlers have been told it's now safe to go into the water at Portobello beach after a warning was in place for six days due to a ‘pollution incident’.

Locals were told to avoid going into the Forth at the popular beauty spot from Thursday, July 13 because of risk of waste contamination following a malfunction at the pumping station on MacDonald Road,

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Letters were delivered to residents and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) put up a sign at the beach advising members of the public to avoid bathing and paddling. This has now been removed and guidance updated to say bathers can enter the water again.

Photo from Surfers Against Sewage paddle out 
Pic by Lisa FergusonPhoto from Surfers Against Sewage paddle out 
Pic by Lisa Ferguson
Photo from Surfers Against Sewage paddle out Pic by Lisa Ferguson

SEPA said on Wednesday: “Precautionary advice against bathing at Portobello beach was put in place on Thursday 13th July after Scottish Water notified SEPA of an issue with the McDonald Road waste water pumping station that had the potential to impact water quality.

“Scottish Water has confirmed that normal function of the waste water pumping station has been reinstated with a temporary measure, and contingency plans are in place. SEPA will continue to liaise with Scottish Water until the issue is fully resolved. The advice against bathing has now been removed following water sample results.

“We continue to encourage members of the public to report signs of pollution to SEPA by calling 0800 80 70 60 or using our online form.”

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It comes after a protest at the beach following recent reports of potential contamination near Edinburgh and East Lothian. A local branch of Surfers Against Sewage have started a monitoring and testing group.

Scottish Water has reassured locals that teams will be on site throughout the bathing season to monitor the performance of the pumps at McDonald Road site. Bosses said additional pumps are ready to be installed as a precaution while an investigation is underway to determine what additional work is needed at the pumping station.

A spokesperson for Scottish Water said: ‘Our team repaired the fault at the McDonald Road waste water pumping station over the weekend and it is now back up and running.

In addition to the repair, we have also installed further contingency measures at the site to increase resilience during bathing season.”

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