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Scotland's Sewage System Is Killing It's Open Waters

Last week on the beautiful banks of Loch Tay, Scotland, the winter swimming championships had no choice but to cancel the event. During the lunch break, while swimmers caught their breath, sewage was dumped into the Loch. This came as a shock to the organisers of the event who were not aware of such things taking place. However, the contamination is not a one off event.  

Scotland's sewage network operates so that there is no open water dumping of sewage unless heavy rainfall occurs. If heavy rainfall occurs, the system ensures that to avoid flooding homes, it is dumped into open water. 

Although the incident at the winter swimming championship was blamed on the increase in visitors to the area. However, the accessibility of open water to sewage systems is proving to be a problem.  

According to an investigation by a local paper The Ferret, there were 12,238 overflow events from wastewater treatment plants into open Scottish water. In another investigation into SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency revealed that there are 45 miles of Scottish rivers that are so badly polluted that there is no hope that they will ever recover.  

SEPA has explained that there will be no improvements made to this dire situation until 2028. This means Scotland’s rivers will continue to suffer for another 5 years.  

The reasons for the pollution vary, however, seven stretches of rivers have been damaged due to sewage being discharged into the water. Not only does the sewage ensure that leisure activities cannot happen in the river, but the wildlife is also suffering.  

Phosphorus enters the river from the sewage and as a result, starves the water of oxygen, resulting in the death of the wildlife. Scotland’s salmon that provides employment to many fishermen are dying by the day.  

Scotland's expansive inland waters are something to be cherished not exploited. The neglect by SEPA means that there will be less clean water to be fished and enjoyed by open water swimmers. Action must be taken now. 

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