Mr John Shields

Chairperson, Borgue Community Council

Craig Cottage

Kirkandrews

Borgue

DG6 4UB

 

09 December 2022

Recipients:

Constituency MSP and MP

Regional MSPs

Leaders, CEO and Ward Officer D&G Council

Cllrs for Dee and Glenkens Ward

Community Council Officers

NFUS Area Manager

Dear John,

Dhoon Bay Community Briefing Note – 09 December 2022

SEPA is pleased to confirm that Dhoon Bay, catchment location in Fig 1 below, has achieved ‘sufficient’ classification for the 2022 bathing water season and therefore avoided being de-designated and having permanent advice being displayed against bathing.

Previously Dhoon Bay has had a ‘poor’ bathing water classification every year since 2015, except for narrowly achieving a ‘sufficient’ classification in 2016.

Further work is still needed to ensure that water quality improves and/or does not deteriorate again in the future.

SEPA’s briefing note in December 2021 highlighted the work that had been undertaken in the catchment, to identify and improve pollution sources. Further work has taken place in the past 12 months to address these issues. A summary is provided in this briefing.

2022 Bathing Water sampling results

Results of samples from the watercourses draining into the bay taken prior to, and during, the 2022 bathing water season indicate that bacterial levels are significant as the Mill Hall Burn reaches the bay. Although this increasing trend is not shown in the Corraford Burn there are still some high results that indicate a source of bacteria. The levels in the River Dee at Gibbhill are very low in comparison. There are other known direct inputs into the bathing water which may also impact on bathing water quality but which have not yet been sampled.

Summary of results

Dhoon Bay has narrowly reached a ‘sufficient’ classification in 2022. We have seen some improvements from agricultural inputs but results still show high levels from other sources which may include human sewage. Maintaining/improving water quality in the bay in future years therefore is unlikely without completing the required upgrades to all sewage treatment systems that drain into the catchment.

 

Domestic upgrade engagement & works

Since December 2021 SEPA has engaged further with local householders and contracted Asher Associates Ltd and Hardie Engineering Ltd, to help better investigate requirements and opportunities to upgrade private domestic sewage systems.

This has so far included:

  • Checking that all septic tanks are currently working as efficiently as they can, until upgrades can be installed.
  • Ensuring that all relevant septic tanks were emptied prior to the start of the bathing water season. In 2022 this was completed by Scottish Water’s septic tank emptying team, noting that this free service will not be available in 2023 and is the property owner’s responsibility to arrange.
  • Identifying how current septic tank systems could be improved/upgraded.
  • Full ground-truthing of each current system to identify which upgrade options are feasible (e.g., filter treatment systems and package treatment plants and/or reedbeds), this included ground investigations at all properties; and providing this information to system/house owners for early consideration.
  • Re-evaluating the total costs for upgrading all the domestic systems.

Works undertaken during November/December 2022 (essential for design stage):

  • Dye testing of surface water connections and CCTV camera work to understand drainage connections for several properties/systems that could not be investigated from above ground.
  • Topographical surveys to be carried out of all systems to inform full design for upgrading each system.

Further works required:

  • Full options appraisal to be made available to residents to decide which upgrade they would approve of for their system, followed by written agreement to continue to design stage.
  • Design of individual systems (informed by previous investigations and topographic surveys).
  • Construction.

Seaward Holiday Park

SEPA has been working with the owner of Seaward Holiday Park to discuss and consider best options to upgrade the current wastewater treatment system on the site. The hope is that this is to be done in conjunction with planned improvements at the Holiday Park in 2023. Current septic tanks were emptied prior to the 2022 bathing water season by Scottish Water. This is the responsibility of the Holiday Park owners on an annual basis.

Agriculture

There have been limited agricultural issues in the catchment this year, except for one Fixed Monetary Penalty of £600 which was issued to a farm business in the catchment for failing to prevent significant livestock poaching within 5m of the Corraford burn. SEPA staff will continue to monitor agricultural land management in the catchment to ensure compliance rates are maintained and do not deteriorate.

Local Authority

SEPA has worked with Dumfries & Galloway Council (DGC), and others nationally, to provide better signage and information for tourists on the most appropriate method for disposal of waste from campervans and caravans across Scotland. Dhoon Bay is often used by campervans and caravans during the bathing season, however it is not a designated ‘Stay the Night’ parking site. Signage has been erected accordingly, and an outside drain at the toilet block has been blocked off, which was likely being used for the inappropriate disposal of waste. The size of the toilet block septic tank has been deemed to be adequate, and does not take rainwater from the toilet building, however DGC will continue to empty the tank regularly.

In addition, there is a volunteer group whichis looking to put up additional signage providing directions/encouragement to use their ELSAN point (sewage discharge point) adjacent to the swimming pool in nearby Kirkcudbright.

Next steps

All of the work undertaken this year has been essential to help improve Dhoon Bay’s bathing water quality for the long term but more work is still needed, especially in relation to private sewage systems that discharge to the bay.

Work and discussions have progressed well with residents and the Holiday Park, and there is an expectation that the system upgrades will be delivered in due course, once design and funding is secured.

The additional ground truthing/investigations of the domestic septic tanks (which were not included as part of the original Scottish Government investigations in 2020) has confirmed that some upgrade options are feasible for the sites, however ground conditions will require significant additional funding to design and construct the upgrades.

Previous funding approved by the Scottish Government to deliver this project in full (£48k - based on 2020 Scot Government study), following full ground investigations, is now calculated to be £250k, a reflection of the presence of rock which will need to be removed for installation, and the increased costs of supplies and drainage contractors.

Residents have been willing to work with SEPA to consider upgrades to their systems (voluntarily) once full design details are available. SEPA has so far led investigation works to identify potential solutions for all the domestic systems, however, as a regulator, SEPA is not able to fund direct regulatory improvement work. Another mechanism is therefore needed to encourage and complete upgrades to all domestic systems, which do not currently meet bathing water discharge standards. SEPA and the Scottish Government are currently discussing the funding of improvements and how best to deliver the remainder of the project going forward. SEPA remains committed to a partnership approach to delivery.

SEPA will continue to work with Seaward Holiday Park, Dhoon Bay residents, the local agricultural community, and the Local Authority to ensure that everything possible will be done to improve and sustain bathing water quality in the catchment in future years.

I hope you find this information useful. 

Regards

Peter

Peter Finnie

Public Affairs

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

07787 669459

 

Fig1 : Dhoon Bay Catchment location

Map

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