Island Health is warning against swimming in Craigflower-Kosapsum Park after water samples showed high bacteria levels in the area.
Craigflower-Kosapsum Park, near Gorge Road West and Admirals Road, offers park-users beach access, picnic areas and a boat launch and was once the site of a Kosapsom village. On July 3, Island Health implemented a swim advisory at the municipal park due to dangerous levels of bacteria at the saltwater beach.
Saanich asks that park-users “refrain from swimming or other water contact activities at this time.”
According to the health authority’s website, water samples are taken from beaches all over Vancouver Island to assess the fecal contamination in the area – saltwater is sampled for Enterococci and freshwater is tested for E. coli. Swimmers exposed to contaminated water are at risk of ear, nose and throat infections as well as gastrointestinal illnesses.
Water sampling at the Craigflower-Kosapsum Park beach began at the end of May and results have shown increasing levels of Enterococci. The most recent sampling result posted to the Island Health website showed 115 Enterococci on June 23 and swim advisories are implemented when a single sample result shows more than 70 Enterococci.
Heather Hutton, a regional environmental health officer, explained that swim advisories are “precautionary” and that increased levels of bacteria can have a number of causes as Enterococci can be found in the digestive system of any warm-blooded animal. She added that beaches with swim advisories remain open to the public.
Swim advisories are also in place in Prior Lake in View Royal due to Blue Green Algae and at Esquimalt Gorge Park and Kinsmen Park beach due to high levels of bacteria.