How are the beaches tested?
Beach water sampling is conducted when the health unit is contacted with concerns regarding the water quality of one of the public beaches listed below.
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.
||As of Sept. 1, 2021|
Lake of the Woods (township)
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 closed?
Beaches that have been found to have contaminated water will be closed for water activities. 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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