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Beach Water Sample Results and Closures

How are the beaches tested?
A minimum of five samples are taken at each beach. The water samples are sent to the nearest accredited Ontario Public Health Lab in Thunder Bay for testing. It takes three days for the lab to receive the samples, grow the bacteria, analyze the results and send the results back to the health unit.  
If bacteria levels of E.coli are higher than the Ontario Guidelines for Water Quality, a risk assessment is completed by a public health inspector to determine the possible causes of high bacteria levels. If it is determined that the health of swimmers may be at risk, then closure signs are posted and the beach water is re-sampled.  
What is tested in the beach water?
The beaches are tested for E.coli levels. E.coli are tiny bacteria that are present in water but cannot be seen by the naked eye. If unsafe levels of E.coli are found in a beach water sample the beach will be closed. High levels of bacteria in the water put swimmers at risk for ear, nose, eye and/or throat irritations and gastrointestinal illness such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. 
2017 beach sampling will begin June 1, 2017. 
Municipality/Beach ​Date of last sample Water sample results ​Beach status Additional notes
​Ghost Lake Aug 1/17 acceptable Open
​Johnson's Aug 1/17 acceptable Open
​Sandy Aug 1/17 acceptable Open
Ear Falls
Ear Falls
July 11/17
acceptable Open
​Gold Pines July 11/17 acceptable Open
Fort Frances
​Pither's Point Aug 1/17 acceptable Open

Harbourage    Aug 1/17 acceptable Open
Agimac July 11/17 acceptable Open
​West July 11/17
acceptable Open
Anicinabe Aug 14/17 acceptable Open
Rabbit Lake Aug 14/17
acceptable Open
Garrow Park Aug 14/17
acceptable Open
​Keewatin Aug 14/17
acceptable ​Open
​Norman Aug 14/17
acceptable ​Open
​Ottawa Street Aug 14/17
acceptable Open
​Coney July 18/17 acceptable Open
Lake of the Woods (township) 
Oscar Bay Aug 14/17 acceptable Open
Rainy River
​Hannan Park Aug 14/17
acceptable Open
Red Lake 
​Rahill July 18/17 acceptable Open
​Kinsmen ​July 18/17
acceptable Open​
Sioux Lookout 
​Town Closed
​2nd Sandy July 11/17 acceptable Open
​Hudson July 11/17
acceptable Open
Sioux Narrows
Bass Lake​ Aug 9/17 acceptable Open
Vermilion Bay
Kinsmen Aug 8/17 acceptable Open
Machin Aug 8/17
acceptable Open
Government Aug 8/17 acceptable Open
​Bells Aug 8/17 acceptable Open
What causes high E.coli levels in the water?
Poor water quality can be caused by many factors. The most common are:
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Wind action
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Water fowl (geese, gulls, ducks)
  • Storm water outflows
  • Septic system discharges
The health unit recommends that people avoid swimming for 48 hours after a heavy rainfall and/or high winds to avoid being in water that could have high levels of bacteria.

When are public beaches posted?
Water at public beaches in the Northwestern Health Unit catchment area is monitored during the swimming season (Victoria Day to Labour Day). Beaches are sampled once a month.

When a beach has been closed, re-sampling will occur immediately and the beach will remain closed until the water quality has recovered.

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