Wednesday, July 24, 2024
July 24, 2024

Ganges beach water improves

Follow-up testing at two of Salt Spring’s ocean beaches suggests island swimmers can rest easier about entering the water, according to results released by Island Health. 

Testing of saltwater samples taken on June 12 and again on June 18 showed “LT5” or less than five enterococci bacteria per 100 mL of water at Churchill Beach, down from what now appears to have been a temporary spike of 85 on June 4. 

At the Centennial Park bulkhead, where readings of 70 and 55 bacteria per 100 mL were tallied May 22 and June 4 respectively, a sample tested from water collected on June 18 showed just 9. 

Enterococci are indicator bacteria Island Health uses to identify the presence of fecal contamination and determine potential risk associated with swimming. On June 11, Island Health and the Capital Regional District issued a water quality notice advising visitors avoid swimming at Churchill Beach and to keep animals on a leash to prevent them from ingesting or swimming in the water until the advisory had been lifted. Churchill Beach is not a well-used swimming spot.

None of Salt Spring’s popular freshwater swimming lakes have shown high levels of indicator bacteria so far this year. 

Saltwater beaches are generally deemed “acceptable” when single sample enterococci results are less than or equal to 70 per 100 mL, where there is considered a “significant risk of illness” from entering the water, according to Island Health, or if the average of the most recent five finds fewer than 35 of the bacteria per 100 mL sample.  

Last summer, just three samples were taken at each Salt Spring Island ocean beach; this year Churchill Beach has already been tested four times since water quality monitoring restarted May 22. 

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