Beach conditions change daily 0
Bay Beach in Fort Erie, shown in this June 2012 file photo, is one of the most popular beaches in Niagara. (MIKE DIBATTISTA QMI Agency Niagara)
A day out at the beach is among the top things people like to do in the summertime, especially when temperatures are hot and humid.
Beach water testing is conducted in the Niagara Region daily, and the status of water quality is always changing.
Why is it that one day a beach can be open and the next labeled unsafe to swim?
Weather conditions can affect test results of beach water and the status can change quickly.
Test results are intended as general guidance. Residents are always encouraged to consider the current weather before deciding to enter the water.
"The water quality can change daily due to a number of factors such as rainfall, wind-speed, wave height and population, which is why we test daily," said Bill Hunter, manager of environmental health with the Niagara Region.
The Region is only mandated to check on a weekly basis, but it's something that they do daily at all the popular beaches.
There are three classifications to the status of beaches, the first is open, the second is unsafe to swim, but the beach remains open and the third is beach closed.
Beaches are posted unsafe and closed when water tests show unacceptable levels of E. Coli bacteria. The beach might also be unsafe because of floating debris, oil, excessive weed growth, bad odours and general turbidity.
Popular swimming and recreation areas are monitored closely to determine if they are high in bacteria.
Hunter said E. Coli is the bacteria they focus on the most because it's the biggest concert from the public health standpoint. There are other bacterias in the water, but not all bacteria is harmful to people.
Beach closures vary from year to year, but Hunter said this year there has been more closures than last.
"Last year we had a very dry summer, which benefits the water," he said. This year we've seen hot, humid, windy and rainy conditions that stir up the water.
To stay up-to-date on local beach conditions visit the Niagara Region's beach water testing results at www.niagararegion.ca/living/water/beaches
"We encourage people to enjoy the beaches, but always mind the signage. The signs are the most accurate way to know if the water is safe or not," he said.