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

Athlete who survived head-on collision offers GameChanger award for women

Victoria woman competed in an Ironman two years after doctors told her she wouldn’t walk

HarbourCats van ticketed at Braefoot Park

Braefoot association dinged $50 for parking baseball team’s van

Victoria resident unable to vote after a move across the Saanich border

Lucia Espino moved just a few blocks, but unable to vote in either municipality

Metchosin Mayor John Rann welcomes new council members

Half of Metchosin council are incumbents

What to pack in an emergency-preparedness kit for earthquakes

Several earthquakes of Vancouver Island’s West Coast have people wondering how to be ready

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

DFO investigating shooting of Vancouver Island sea lion

Rescued animal remains in critical condtion at Vancouver Aquarium after Ucluelet incident

Man reportedly exposing himself to Vancouver Island students

Incident happened Monday afternoon at Lake Trail middle school in Courtenay

WWE star Roman Reigns announces he has leukemia

Grappler formerly played in CFL

China opens mega-bridge linking Hong Kong to mainland

The $20 billion bridge took almost a decade to build while incurring major delays and cost overruns

Dangerous Cat 4 Hurricane Willa closing in on Mexico coast

Officials said 7,000 to 8,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas, mostly in Sinaloa state

Excessive speed named as cause of Taiwan train derailment

18 people were killed and at least 170 more were injured

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Most Read