LINLITHGOW Loch is in need of some TLC after reports show threats of deadly algae will only get worse without intervention.
The picturesque Loch is one of only two remaining natural lowland lochs in the Lothians, and remains key to local tourism and activities such as water sports and fishing.
But in recent years, seasonal blue/green algal bloom on the surface of the Loch, caused by serious deterioration in water quality, has created public health concerns. The blooms pose a threat of illness to wildlife and to humans, that can lead to death.
At a recent meeting of Linlithgow Town Management Group (LTMG), a representative from the Linlithgow Loch Catchment Management Group (LLCMG) - stakeholders including West Lothian Council, SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Water among others - suggested a Trust could be set up to address the future of the Loch.
Council officer Graeme Hedger said the deadly algae was caused by high levels of nutrient in the Loch, coming from agricultural waste, local burns, canal overflow, local transport and septic tanks. Possible options include extending the town sewer along Edinburgh Road to replace the 18 septic tanks there. But even if this action is taken, it would still take 15 years to reverse the pollutant effects on the Loch.
Graeme added: “Everyone has a stake in this body of water and everybody needs to be aware of the issues.”
Recent studies, such as one undertaken by Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) also looked at the effects of agricultural practices, local amenities, light industry, wildlife and railway drainage. Awareness-raising among farmers and residents was considered key as the community needs to act together if deterioration is reversed. Plans for the Loch will be discussed at a future meeting of the LTMG.