Health Unit reminds public to be aware and swim safe at local beaches

by Dai Yong, Public Health Inspector

Beach water surveillance for 2017 began on June 12th. The Chatham-Kent Public Health will be sampling area beaches weekly during the summer to test for E. coli. E. coli is an “indicator organism” that may indicate the presence of harmful bacteria, parasites, and/or viruses.

Although the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit will sample beach water weekly for surveillance purposes those sample results are only an indicator of the condition of the water at the time of sampling. It is important to know that beach water quality can change day-to-day and even hour-to-hour. We know weather conditions are a leading influence on water quality as bacteria levels in the water always increase after heavy rain and strong winds.

The Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit wants to remind everyone that before you swim—be aware of recent weather to make an informed decision to swim safe. Do not swim in beach water for at least 24 hours after heavy rainfall or strong winds

You should also be aware of signs posted on the beach:

  1. The Advisory sign says “High levels of bacteria are found in these waters after heavy rainfall or strong winds.” This permanent sign reminds you that you can decide to swim safely in these waters unless there has been heavy rain or strong winds in the last 24 hours.
  2. A Warning sign tells you that it is unsafe to swim at the beach since the 5 year historical water sample results show consistent high levels of bacteria in the water. Swimming in these waters must be avoided.
  3. The Closed sign tells you the beach is unsafe. You must not enter the beach or the water when you see a closed sign.

New this year the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit will be posting the weekly water sample surveillance results on our webpage.

For the summer of 2017 the beaches to be monitored are:

  1. Clearville Campground – East Kent
  2. Wildwood Beach – East Kent
  3. Terrace Beach (Howard West) – East Kent
  4. Bates Beach – South Kent
  5. Erieau – South Kent
  6. Erieau Yacht Club – South Kent
  7. Pier Road Beach – West Kent
  8. Getty’s Beach – West Kent
  9. Mitchell’s Bay – North Kent

For more information, contact the Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit at 519.352.7270.

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