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Water testing shows beaches are safe for the August long weekend

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Water testing at most beaches monitored by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship has shown that levels of E. coli are within recreational water quality guidelines.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Water testing at most beaches monitored by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship has shown that levels of E. coli are within recreational water quality guidelines. Photo Store

Good news for beach-bound Manitobans this August long weekend.

Water testing at most beaches monitored by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship has shown that levels of E. coli are within recreational water quality guidelines.

Water samples were collected from Birds Hill Provincial Park's east and central beaches on July 28 and densities of E. coli were 10 per/100 ml, well below the recreational water quality guideline of 200 per/100 ml.

E. coli counts were briefly above the guideline on Lake Winnipeg at Victoria Beach Clubhouse and the Red Cross Dock on July 28 but returned to below the guideline by July 30, according to the provincial test results.

E. coli counts were also briefly above the guideline on Lake Winnipeg at Winnipeg Beach on July 29 but returned below the guideline by July 31.

On Lake Winnipeg, elevated E. coli counts typically last for short periods of time, and although most swimmers are not expected to become ill, the possibility of illness increases with higher levels of bacteria. Bathers are advised to avoid swallowing lake water, to wash hands before handling food and to avoid swimming with an open cut or wound, or if already experiencing illness.

On Lake Winnipeg, bathers should minimize water contact if lake levels are high and strong winds are blowing from the north. Research shows that E. coli tends to be elevated during these conditions as they are washed out of the foreshore wet sand and into the bathing area.

Algal blooms were observed and sampled this past week at Killarney Lake, Pelican Lake (Ninette and Pleasant Valley), Rock Lake (Friesen's beach), Rainbow, Ochre, Silver, Rossman and Oak Lake beaches. At all nine beaches, the number of blue-green algae cells was above the recreational water quality guideline but the concentration of algal toxin was below the guideline. First-level algae advisory signs were posted this week at Rock Lake (Friesen's beach), Rainbow, Ochre, Silver, Rossman and Oak Lake beaches. First-level algae advisory signs remain posted at Killarney and Pelican Lake (Ninette and Pleasant Valley) beaches.

People are reminded to avoid swimming in water where severe algal blooms are visible and to prevent pets from drinking water along the shoreline where algal blooms are present.

Algal blooms are difficult to predict and may form and then disperse quickly, or last for several days or weeks. Warm and calm weather coupled with relatively high nutrient loads provide ideal conditions for blue-green algae to develop.

Information on beach water quality results, advisory signs posted at beaches, and swimmer and water safety is available at www.manitoba.ca/beaches.

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