June 11, 2004

York Region Beach Sampling Program begins

NEWMARKET - With the hot days of summer fast approaching, you may want to cool off and spend time at a York Region beach with family and friends. York Region Health Services monitors water quality at York Region's public bathing beaches during the summer months to ensure that the water quality is safe for swimming. The York Region Beach Sampling Program is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, June 15th.
Health Services staff will collect a minimum of five water samples from each beach sampling site twice a week.  These samples are tested by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Laboratories Branch, for bacterial quality. High levels of bacteria can cause skin, ear, eye, nose and throat infections as well as stomach disorders.
If bacterial counts exceed provincial guidelines (100 E.coli per 100ml of water), Health Services will post a sign at the beach advising the public that the water is unsafe for swimming. Beaches will be closed when there are indications of hazardous or infectious materials present in the water, or in the event of a blue-green algae bloom.  When the water is once again safe for swimming, the beach will be re-opened.
The following public bathing beaches are tested:
 Lake Simcoe:
Claredon Beach
Balfour Beach
De La Salle Beach
Franklin Beach
         Holmes Point
Island Grove
Jackson's Point Beach
Keswick Beach
         Maple Leaf Beach
         Glenwoods Beach
         Penninsula Motel
         Port Bolster Beach
Willow Beach
Other Locations in York Region:
Cedar Beach, Musselman's lake, Whitchurch-Stouffville
Recreation Island, Seneca College, King City
Sunset Beach, Lake Wilcox, Richmond Hill
Shadow lake, Whitchurch-Stouffville  
Last year 13 of our 18 public beaches tested were posted at least once due to high bacterial counts during the summer. There are many factors that contribute to water pollution leading to beach postings at our beaches, including:
 seasonal and storm surface run-off into rivers and lakes
 sewer overflows
 agricultural manure and feedlot run-off
 malfunctioning private sewage disposal system     
 domestic pet waste run-off
 large populations of waterfowl
 warm water temperatures
 boating waste
How can you help to keep our beaches clean and safe for swimming during the summer months?
 If you own a pet, please observe local "stoop and scoop" by-laws and remove dog faeces from city streets, public parks and private property
 Do not attract animals or birds to beaches by feeding them
 If you are planning an addition to your home, contact your local building department to ensure that plumbing fixtures are properly connected to municipal sanitary sewer pipes or your private sewage disposal system
 Upgrade and keep in good working order your private sewage disposal system
 In agricultural communities, fence livestock away from streams and provide them with alternate water sources
 Ensure that run-off from feedlots and manure piles is properly maintained
 Practice pollution-free boating by disposing of human wastes hygienically
 Do not go into the water if you have an infection or open wound.
Several private beach associations monitor their own beach water quality. York Region Health Services welcomes the opportunity to assist beach associations with the set-up of water sampling programs.
To find out if your favourite beach is safe for swimming or for more information about the Beach Sampling Program contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at
1-800-361-5653 (toll free) or visit Beach Sampling Results on the York Region website www.region.york.on.ca (YORK REGION>Departments>Health Services>Beach Sampling Results).

Contact: Wendy Lewis, York Region Corporate Communications Services
  905-830-4444 Ex. 1238

The Regional Municipality of York is committed to providing cost-effective, quality services that respond to the needs of our rapidly growing communities.  York Region is comprised of the following nine area municipalities:  Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Whitchurch-Stouffville.  For more information, visit our Web site at:  www.region.york.on.ca

Contact: Patrick Casey, Senior Media Relations Specialist, York Region

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