Gone are the days of plunging into one of the city’s secluded lakes, blissfully unaware of the high fecal count of the water.
Regional Council voted yesterday to issue public advisories whenever the fecal count in lakes with unsupervised beaches reaches 400 or more.
Currently, the numbers, which are tested every three months, are posted online for the public to see. But Coun. Andrew Younger (East Dartmouth-The Lakes) says failing to directly inform the public “opens us up to criticism.”
Fecal coliforms aren’t a threat in and of themselves, but they are an indicator of the possible presence of disease-causing organisms. They come from human waste, animal waste and waterfowl.
At present, the province samples the water at beaches with lifeguards weekly, and retests the lake if the fecal count is higher than 200. If a second sample exceeds 200, or if any sample reaches 400, the beach is closed to swimmers and a public advisory is issued.
Yesterday’s decision means if there’s a potentially hazardous amount of fecal coliforms in the water at an unsupervised beach, a public advisory will remain in effect until the next testing is conducted.
Coun. Jim Smith (Albro Lake-Harbourview) raised concern about the length of time between municipal samplings, but as Younger pointed out, the onus is ultimately on the province to test all lakes appropriately.
As far as posting signs goes, which was briefly discussed, according to Younger, barring “police tape all the way around the lake,” people will still go in.
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