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

Father of Saanich murder victim Lindsay Buziak set to appear on Dr. Phil show Friday

Jeff Buziak says he has not seen the show and does not know what to expect

Premier John Horgan visits his old Saanich high school to announce rise in robot funding

Horgan, a Reynolds grad, used the occasion to play catch with the school’s robot

Keep a distance when fawning over baby deer, reminds conservation officer

West Shore conservation officer advises deer can forage on their own and don’t need human help

Songbirds return to their roost in the West Shore

Tips, such as keeping roaming cats from ruffling any feathers, can attract more birds

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

So, do you know ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’?

Ontario man searching for fellow he travelled with in Europe 50 years ago

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

Most Read