Elevated levels of enterococci found at Brentwood Bay beach


WATCH: Some residents in Central Saanich are raising the alarm about their dirty water after Island Health warned residents not to swim at the beach because of elevated levels of bacteria.

Michael Simmons says he’s shocked to discover the beach behind his house is not safe to swim at.

“We regularly swim here through the summer. We haven’t this year. We’re afraid to, actually, now,” Simmons said.

Back in June, Island Health found elevated levels of enterococci in the water.

It’s a type of bacteria found in marine wildlife and humans.

Island Health said the amount found was high enough to advise the public about a potential health hazard.

Officials don’t know where it’s from, but Simmons says he think it could be the many liveaboard boats moored offshore.

“We think maybe there’s one fellow out here who we see leaving on a regular basis who, presumably, is going to deeper waters to discharge, as law requires. But [for] most of them, the law is ignored,” Simmons said.

Anne Henderson, who lives nearby, says there could also be a variety of causes.

“We also have people with dogs that are bringing them to the beach and letting them pee and poop all over the beaches and on the area above the beach. So that isn’t helping,” Henderson said.

Central Saanich’s mayor says the district is currently waiting to hear from the province about its application for a license of occupation. It would allow the district to regulate the number of mooring buoys, as well as help ensure boaters comply with regulations.

“If you can educate people about the services that exist, they don’t become an enforcement issue as quite as frequently I don’t think. I have a genuine belief that the vast majority of people want to do good, they want to be helpful and they want to do the right thing,” Windsor said.

In an email, Transport Canada said it “has not received any evidence of vessels in Saanich Inlet discharging sewage into the water,” but that it will take appropriate enforcement action if necessary.

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