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

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria post-secondary schools reveal most popular programs

Camosun College, the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University share students’ top picks

Opposition to gravel quarry in Highlands gains traction

Impact on drinking water a major concern

‘Best in the country’: Formerly homeless man praises Victoria’s outreach services

Jay W. was living on the streets of downtown Victoria in 2018

Greater Victoria sees crime severity index rise

Fraud cases rise 31 per cent over previous year

Time-lapse video shows weekend work on McKenzie Interchange project

Construction crews place concrete underpass bridge beams

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Police ask for help locating missing men last seen in South Surrey

Jeep that Richard Scurr and Ryan Provencher were in has been located unoccupied in Logan Lake: RCMP

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Sexual assaults, extortion on the rise even as crime rates stay low: Stats Canada

Rates of police-reported sexual assault rose for the fourth year in a row

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Most Read