Recent heavy rains and flooding can cause a health risk at Quinte area beaches and the Hastings Prince Edward health unit has a special word of warning for the public.
Officials say higher than normal levels of E-Coli contamination are present due to recent flooding, and may be present in surface waters.
Public health inspector Allison Girouard says the health unit also recommends that people do not swim at a public beach for up to 48 hours after a heavy rain because E. coli levels tend to be higher then.
Girouard says “High levels of bacteria in recreational water can cause skin, ears, eyes, nose and throat infections and stomach disorders.”
The health unit has begun testing local beaches for contamination, collecting five water samples from each beach being monitored.
When bacterial counts exceed provincial guidelines, warning signs are posted at the beach advising that the water is unsafe for swimming.
Girouard points out that the public can help by keeping septic systems in good working order and fencing livestock away from streams and providing them with alternate water sources.
“We all need to do our part to improve water quality,” says Girouard.
She suggests the following:
Upgrade septic systems and keep them in good working order.
Pet owners should observe local ‘stoop & scoop’ bylaws
Detach eaves troughs from sewers so they discharge onto lawns. This reduces the amount of rainwater going directly into sewers.
Ensure that washroom additions to your home are connected properly to the sanitary sewers.
Fence livestock away from streams and provide them with alternate water sources.
Ensure that run-off from feedlots and manure piles are properly contained.
You can also find out if your favourite beach is safe for swimming by calling the health unit Beach Info-Line at 613-966-5500 ext. 652 or 1-800-267-2803 ext. 652 or by visiting the Water Safety section on the health unit website: www.hpepublichealth.ca.