NEWMARKET – During the hot weather, beaches provide a fun way to cool off and spend time 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 2006 York Region Beach Sampling Program officially begins on Wednesday, June 14th.
Each week, Health Services staff will collect a minimum of five water samples from each beach. These samples are sent to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Laboratories Branch, and tested for bacterial quality. High levels of bacteria in water can cause skin, ear, eye, nose and throat infections and stomach disorders.
When bacterial counts exceed provincial guidelines (100 E.coli per 100ml of water), Health Services staff will post warning signs (at the beach) advising the public that the water is unsafe for swimming. It is also recommended that people do not swim at a public beach for up to 48 hours after a heavy rain when
E. coli levels tend to be higher. Permanent rainfall warning signs are now posted at each beach that is routinely sampled.
Beaches will be also 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 beaches
De La Salle Beach
North Gwillimbury Park
Parkwood Crescent Beach
Port Bolster Beach
Willow Wharf Dock
Other locations tested 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-Stoufville
There are many factors that contribute to water pollution at our beaches, including:
• Seasonal and storm surface run-off into rivers and lakes
• Agriculture manure and feedlot run-off
• Domestic pet waste run-off
• Sewer overflows and malfunctioning private sewer disposal systems
• Large population of waterfowl
• Warm water temperatures
• Boating waste
Below is a list of tips to help keep local beaches open and safe for swimming:
• If you own a pet, please observe local "stoop and scoop" by-laws and remove their waste from city streets, public parks and private property
• Avoid attracting 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
• 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
• Upgrade and keep in good working order your private sewage disposal system
• Practice pollution-free boating by disposing of human wastes hygienically
• Avoid 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 Web site www.york.ca
(YORK REGION> Departments> Health Services>Beach Sampling Results).
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
Phone: (905) 830-4444, ext. 4016 or after-hours pager (905) 830-3302