The Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) Good Beach Guide 2009, published today, has failed the beach at Portobello for its polluted water.
Fisherrow West in Musselburgh, North Berwick (Milsey Bay) and Dunbar (Belhaven) were also given black marksfor pollution caused by overflowing sewage systems.
The guide suggests Lothian swimmers should instead head to Seacliff, Thorntonloch and Yellowcraigs (Broad Sands Bay) in East Lothian, which achieved the highest possible standard.
Experts have blamed the disappointing results on “once in a lifetime” rainfall which fell when the water tests were being carried out in 2008.
The guide was compiled using water quality data gathered by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) between June and September last year.
Each of the failed beaches suffered from overflowing sewage systems caused by heavy rainfall in July and August 2008, and the MCS grading does not always take heavy rainfall into account.
Portobello was blighted by sewage released when the Joppa sewage pumping station overflowed. Sepa’s report said: “The rainfall during this period was greater than two and a half times the rainfall for the whole month, and was of a level which would be experienced once in a lifetime.
“This excessive rainfall resulted in the capacity of the pumps at Joppa sewage pumping station being exceeded for a greater period than normal, which resulted in more frequent operation of the sewer overflow.
“Scottish Water has taken additional steps to improve the robustness of this system.”
MCS’s Calum Duncan said: “Because of sewer overflows and run-off from farms, heavy rainfall can lead to even the best beaches becoming infected with sewage-related bacteria.”
Would you go swimming at a Lothian beach?
Darran Quigley, 31, driver technician, Forrester Park Avenue: “I don’t think I would because of the sewage works. I would maybe go swimming at a beach up north but not in the Lothians.”
Katherine Hegarty, 31, interior designer, Forrester Park Avenue: “No. Knowing the sewage systems can overflow when it rains puts you off.”