Blown out of the water again

Triathletes take plunge at the loch during the Commonwealth Games.
Triathletes take plunge at the loch during the Commonwealth Games.

The Scottish Government is being urged to come up with a permanent solution to the water quality problems that have plagued Strathclyde Loch.

The call comes as rowers and sailors are once again being warned to stay out of the water - just weeks after the loch hosted the massively successful Commonwealth Games triathlon.

And while it’s currently out of use it’s just been announced that the loch will host open water swimming races as part of the European swimming championships in 2018.

More than £1 million was spent on installing a barrier and cleaning up a section of the loch so the swimming leg of the Games triathlon could be held.

Around 50,000 spectators enjoyed two days of triathlon action which also featured cycling and running in Strathclyde Park. The event was televised and praise was heaped on the venue by athletes and commentators.

But now the problem of blue green algae, which can cause sickness, has resurfaced.

The Commonwealth Rowing Championships were held at the loch two weeks ago, but since then the water has been off limits.

Strathclyde Park Rowing Club says it has no idea when members will be able to resume training on the loch.

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP John Pentland now wants action to ensure the loch is available for local people who might have been inspired by the Games.

He said: “I’m disappointed there are problems with Strathclyde Loch, especially so soon after so much work was done to bring it up to scratch for the Commonwealth Games.

“Clearly the legacy that was supposed to be provided by the Games is not living up to expectations, so I shall write to Sports Minister Shona Robison, highlighting the investment that was made locally, and the promises about the legacy of the Games that have been made by the Scottish Government.

“It looks like the measures taken for the Games were a short-term fix, when what we really need is a long term solution to ensuring water quality in the loch.”

A North Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: “Blue green algae is naturally occurring during sustained warm periods and there is no way to prevent it from appearing in the loch.

“However, a significant part of the legacy from hosting the Glasgow 2014 triathlon events is we have the expertise to create a contained area which can be treated and, is free from microbiological contaminants. These solutions were extremely effective during the Games, with water quality exceeding international triathlon standards many times over.

“We will use this expertise to good effect when hosting future swimming or triathlon events. We continue to take samples from the loch twice a week to ensure we can monitor conditions and maximise use of this world-class facility.”