Twins

Despite geese, regional lakes clean enough for swimmers

This year has seen an increase in geese on Elk lake, but bacteria levels are well within what’s considered safe for swimming.

In July 2011 in the week leading up to the Self Transcendence Triathlon held at Elk Lake, high bacteria levels caused by Canada Geese droppings sparked a water quality warning from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

That warning was lifted just minutes before the triathlon start and the event went as planned.

This year, despite an increase in geese on the lake as observed by the Capital Regional District parks staff, bacteria levels are well within what’s considered safe for swimming.

“(Fecal coliform levels) are almost always related to the geese, especially once the bathers go away,” said Erwin Dyck, supervisor of environmental health officers for the Vancouver Island Health Authority. “If you go in the evenings, you’ll see (geese) just congregating where it’s easy to get out of the water.”

Human activity will add to some of the contamination, but geese are responsible for the bulk of the bacteria levels, Dyck added. The CRD has contracted a dog handler to haze geese from the beaches at Elk and Beaver lakes.

Fecal coliform levels are considered high when bacteria measurements exceed 200 cfu (colony-forming units) per 100 ml of water. At Elk Lake park’s popular Hamsterly Beach, the latest reading hit 36 cfu.

The bacteria count at Thetis Lake last week was higher, though still below the acceptable 200 cfu limit and that appears to be coming down, Dyck said.

The CRD isn’t hazing geese from Thetis Lake, though it would consider it an option should bacteria levels climb, said Janette Loveys, manager of CRD park operations.

Water quality testing has also been ramped up along the Gorge Waterway this summer as community groups prepare for the Gorge Swim Fest event next Sunday.

The most recent tests show average fecal coliform counts of 4 cfu at Gorge Park (at Curtis Point in Saanich), 11 at Banfield Park (in Vic West) and 74 at Gorge-Kinsmen Park (in Esquimalt).

When fecal coliform levels are above 200 cfu, beaches aren’t technically closed, but VIHA medical health officers do issue the advisory that swimming in water with unacceptable bacteria levels can increase the risk of ear, nose and throat infection or stomach illnesses.

Swallowing high-bacteria water can result in gastrointestinal inflammation. Direct contact with the eyes, ears and nose can cause irritation.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay, Esquimalt firefighters headed up the big climb Sunday

Oak Bay firefighter joins former Esquimalt assistant chief for 48-storey stair climb

Development will bring 77 new homes to Colwood

Developers preparing land for six-storey, four-storey and two three-storey buildings on Sooke Road

Kids learn the ropes of business with free UVic entreprenuership training

The second annual Kidovate program is now open for registration

VicPD arrest man after hours-long barricade on Pandora Avenue

Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team called in to assist

VIDEO: Alleged shoplifter caught on camera at Sidney boutique

Staff at Cameron Rose Gifts seek the public’s help locating woman

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay Victoria man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Most Read