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HomeHealth and LifestyleLocal beach water monitoring starts this week as new signage unveiled

Local beach water monitoring starts this week as new signage unveiled

KAWARTHA LAKES-Just in time for the arrival of summer, the Health Unit’s beach water monitoring program is back to help people determine if the water is safe for swimming.

Between now and Labour Day, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will regularly test the water at 45 public beaches in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Water samples will be tested for E.coli to determine if local beaches are safe for public use.

The Health Unit will update beach water test results by late Thursday or early Friday each week throughout summer and we will post the results on Kawartha 411 every Friday.

“Before going to the beach, people should check to see if local beaches are safe for swimming,” says Bernie Mayer,Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “In certain circumstances, beaches can provide more than just fun and recreation. A higher bacteria count in the water can increase the risk of getting eye, ear, nose or throat infections, or make people sick leading to stomach cramps and diarrhea.”

This year some beachgoers may notice new metal signs being put up at some of the busier public beaches in Northumberland County, Haliburton County and City of Kawartha Lakes. Besides being more durable, these metal signs are also more visible for people to see whether a beach is safe for swimming.

At other beaches, the Health Unit will continue to post warning signs on those that have high bacteria counts, advising people not to use the water. These signs are removed when test results show the bacteria counts are below the provincial standards.

Mayer advises people going to the beach to be aware of other warning signs that could affect the water quality.

“Beach water may contain high levels of bacteria for up to 48 hours after a heavy rainfall. High winds or wave activity can also drive up bacterial counts in the water,” he says. “Another warning sign can be the presence of a large number of birds, such as geese or seagulls nesting near the beach. Fecal matter from these birds can drive up bacterial counts in the water.”

Algae, floating debris, oil, discoloured water, bad odours and excessive weed growth are other potential signs that the beach may be unsafe for swimming. Prolonged hot weather can promote the growth of bacteria in the water, as can the actual water temperature. For example, shallow beaches tend to have warmer water and a higher potential for bacterial growth. “If you have doubts about water safety,” says Mayer, “avoid the beach and try again when conditions improve.”

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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