Island Health issues water advisories for 4 Greater Victoria beaches

Island Health issues water advisories for 4 Greater Victoria beaches
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Just days before warmer weather is expected, Island Health has issued water advisories for several beaches in Greater Victoria due to high bacteria levels.

Saanich Inlet off Clark Road in Brentwood Bay, Coles Bay Beach in North Saanich, Ross Bay Beach in Victoria and Esquimalt Gorge Park’s Kinsmen Beach are included in the health authorities’ notices, which were issued in late May.

The advisories follow “unsatisfactory bacteriological water results,” notes Island Health on its website, where it also shares sampling history.

The latest testing showed the area of Saanich Inlet had an enterococci count of 85, while Coles Bay’s was 165, Ross Bay’s was 95, and Kinsmen’s was 2,300.

The Government of Canada says “enterococci are used as a primary indicator of fecal contamination,” adding, “elevated numbers detected in either fresh or marine waters indicate the potential presence of fecal material and thus the possible presence of fecally sourced pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa.”

According to Island Health, sample results are only considered acceptable when a minimum of five samples contains no more than 35 enterococci per 100 ml, or when a single sample has less than or equal to 70 enterococci per 100 ml.

It says the beach sampling program is active between mid-May and September each year to monitor water quality throughout the swimming season. 

“Beach owners and operators are responsible for beach water sampling and maintaining a safe environment for public beach use,” it says. “Where results may indicate the water may be unsafe, beach advisories will be posted by local government at the beach site in consultation with Island Health.”

The health authority adds that beach advisories are lifted once there is no longer a risk to swimmers. Find more details about the advisories here.

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Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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