Health unit enhances beach water web pages

As the beach season heats up, residents and visitors are reminded to visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit’s beach water web pages. They’ve been revamped this year to make it easier for people to make a more informed decision about which beach to visit.

“This summer, every public beach sampled is listed on our page, not just those posted with a swimming advisory, which was our previous practice,” said Christina Wieder, manager Safe Water program manager. “All beaches have an address with a map, and we added a symbol for each beach posted as open, swimming advisory in place and closed.”

Beach water quality is sampled for E. coli bacteria once a week in Simcoe Muskoka. When bacteria levels exceed Ontario guidelines, there may be a higher than normal risk of illness or infection and the beach is posted with a swimming advisory to let people know of potential risk. The swimming advisory remains posted until sample testing shows bacteria is once again within acceptable limits.

Testing results of beaches are reflective of the day and time they were sampled, and natural bodies of water are affected by weather conditions such as rain and wind, wave action as well as the number of bathers, waterfowl and animals in the immediate area.

“Our beaches are usually sampled once per week during July and August, but with natural bodies of water, conditions can change between sampling,” said Wieder. ”By checking the beach water pages often, people can develop an understanding of the characteristics of their favourite beach, as well as potential risk, and make an informed decision on where to swim.”

For more information about the beach water sampling testing program, call Health Connection weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520 or visit simcoemuskokahealth.org.

Photo: The local health unit urges residents to check out its beach water web pages for water safety updates before heading out to the lake.

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