Beach water samples
Water samples are tested for E. coli bacteria as this bacteria is commonly found in feces of warm blooded animals (including humans) and consuming this bacteria may cause illness. Beach water samples are collected to monitor the quality of the water and compare the results with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality.
Samples are classified as:
- Satisfactory: Samples taken over a 30-day period contain an average of LESS THAN or EQUAL TO 200 E. coli bacteria/100ml.
- Unsatisfactory: Samples taken over a 30-day period contain an average of MORE THAN 200 E. coli bacteria/100ml, and/or a series of single sample results EXCEED 400 E. coli bacteria/100ml.
Note: if a beach is not listed, it means the beach is not routinely sampled.
Algae are a natural part of the aquatic ecosystems of lakes in Interior Health Region. Prolific growth can cause an algae bloom to form. Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae can produce several types of toxins that can be poisonous to people, pets or livestock. Cyanobacteria blooms often cause the water to look bad and may also smell bad. You can be exposed to cyanobacteria toxins by drinking water that contains a bloom, or by getting it on your skin during recreational activities. Always use caution when there is a bloom.
The public can submit an algae bloom observation online with the Province of BC Algae Watch. In partnership with local governments algae blooms may be monitored and tested. Interior Health recommends that beach operators have a Beach Safety Plan in place, so they can respond quickly to extreme weather events and other problems.
Interior Health does not routinely test water of algae blooms to determine the algae species or presence of toxins. Algae blooms are variable and conditions can change. Testing represents only where the sample was taken and what was contained in the sample. Test results only represent that particular water sample and that time. There may be toxins present in other locations of the bloom not tested, or toxins may be produced at a later time. The amount can vary dramatically within the body of water and over time. If there is a bloom always use caution.
If you see a bloom it is best to avoid any direct contact with the bloom. If contact is made, rinse your body with clean water. Recreational activities, such as swimming, are discouraged. Consider using an alternate source for drinking water, if your source of water intake is in the body of water with the bloom. Boiling the water will not remove any toxins. Contact your water supplier for more information. Consider providing pets and livestock with an alternative source of drinking water.
Cautionary: Algae present; no testing conducted or testing has NOT identified toxins:
- Avoid any contact with water/recreational use is not advisable
- Consider an alternative drinking water source(s)
Do Not Use/Beach Closure: Testing identified toxins
- Beaches are closed: Stay out of the water
- Do NOT use the water: Use an alternative source
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