An annual swimming event taking place on the picturesque Loch Tay was cancelled half way through after raw sewage leaked into the water.
The Scottish Winter Swimming Championships were well under way on Saturday at the Taymouth Marina at Kenmore before the sudden discharge.
The contamination took place during a lunch break when no swimmers were in the water.
The International Winter Swimming Association (IWSA) event was taking place from Friday to Sunday.
It attracts hundreds of swimmers to the Highland Perthshire beauty spot every year to take part in short individual races, team relays and a tough endurance challenge.
Many like to make a splash by taking to the waters in inventive and colourful outfits.
But their enjoyment was sadly cut short, with a “one-off” mechanical fault due to a greater number of visitors than expected being blamed for the leak which has since been rectified.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the championships said: “It is with deep regret that we have had to cancel the remainder of the Scottish Winter Swimming Championships 2023 due to a discharge of sewage into the marina that we use for the competition.
“This happened at a lunch break when no swimmers were in the water.
“There is a lot to sort out and we don’t have all the answers at this stage, but will be in contact when we have more information.”
Taymouth Marina general manager Darren Scott said in a statement on Saturday: “After a glorious start to the Scottish Winter Swimming Championships event today, we are extremely disappointed to report that there has been an unfortunate situation with a short sewage discharge which meant the remainder of the event has been cancelled by the organisers as a precaution.
“This was a one-off unfortunate situation, which occurred due to the vast number of visitors on site, (beyond expectation) and a surge in the system.
“This has now been rectified and environmental bodies like SEPA have been notified and are happy with actions taken.
“There is no impact on the Loch and the advice is that water activities will be okay again tomorrow for people from our westerly access and surrounding areas. As always, we also ask people to make their own judgements on swimming.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused and hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend.”
Taymouth Marina management added that plans are in place for a replacement sewage system as part of expansion plans, including the creation of an outdoor wellness and water sports centre, lodged with Perth and Kinross Council.
Many attendees voiced their disappointment with the cancellation and the handling in the aftermath, with one commenting: “I was there and saw the sewage pumping out.
“We managed to get all the swim kit out in time and luckily it was during our lunch break.
“It smelt all weekend. We put in oil spillage ‘kit’ to try and stop it all spreading.
“They had a poor young lady trying to get ‘the solids’ out with minimal safety equipment and an old net.
“The manager should have done it themselves. No one had the courtesy to address and apologise to the swimmers face to face, many who had travelled hundreds of miles.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) said: “On Saturday, February 25, 2023 Taymouth Marina notified SEPA of sewage from its private sewage system entering Loch Tay which led to the cancellation of a local swimming event.
“SEPA responded to the initial incident report on Saturday and engaged with the operator to ensure remedial action was swiftly taken.
“The incident was caused when the existing sewage treatment plant capacity became overwhelmed by the number of visitors on site.
“The operator had brought in additional portable toilet facilities.
“A SEPA officer attended the following day and confirmed actions taken by the venue had been completed, helping to minimise the impact on local water quality.
“There were no signs of ongoing pollution, and the sewage treatment system was operating as expected. SEPA will engage with the operator to understand what action can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident.
“We continue to encourage members of the public to report any potential pollution incidents via our 24-hour online form at www.sepa.org.uk/report.”
A Scottish Water spokesperson confirmed they had a local team sent out to investigate the incident.
However as it was linked to a private sewerage system Scottish Water had no further involvement in the case and referred it on to SEPA.