On Tuesday May 9th I hosted a public information meeting regarding Britannia Beach and water quality. City Staff provided a brief information overview regarding the gull wire installation, which will be coloured green this year to be more visible to birds so they can avoid the wires. We will continue have coverage over the garbage cans and regular pickup will continue at the beach.
The main source of e-coli is gull droppings, so efforts are also being made to remind visitors not to feed birds via signage, but also to consider packing up their picnics and taking home their garbage as if at a campsite.
If you were unable to attend the meeting you can watch the video HERE on the youtube website.
We received the following update from Ottawa Public Health regarding questions asked during the public meeting:
Question #1: What is the role of OPH in E. coli testing?
In accordance with the Recreational Water Protocol 2019, OPH shall undertake the following activities using the Operational Approaches for Recreational Water Guideline, 2018 (or as current):
- Conduct an assessment of all public beaches annually, including an environmental survey and review of historical and epidemiological data, to:
- confirm the inventory of beaches that require monitoring as per this protocol; and
- determine the suitability of the site for public recreational use supported by a water sampling program and appropriate level of surveillance, in collaboration with the owner/operators. In addition, OPH communicates to the public information of the status of public beaches, beach postings and promotion of strategies to prevent illness and injury.
When elevated levels of E. coli are detected in the water, it is more likely that other disease-causing organisms are also present. These organisms can result in skin, ear, throat, or gastro-intestinal illnesses.
Water test results are not available immediately as they take at least 18 hours to process in the laboratory. For this reason, swim advisories are issued based on water sample results from the previous day, as well as our knowledge of water quality at each beach in previous years and how they react to various environmental factors. OPH will not recommend swimming at beaches if:
- the geometric mean of 5 water samples taken on the previous day is greater than 200 E. coli per 100mL of water (Ontario water quality standard for beach water quality);
- there is a significant rainfall event; or
- we are aware of a situation that could impact the water quality at a beach.
For information on City of Ottawa Beaches, please visit the City of Ottawa website.
Question #2: What was the prevalence of E. Coli at Mooney’s Bay Beach before/after the gull wires were installed?
It is important to note that several potential factors will affect water quality results, including: rain & run-off following heavy rains, wind, and wave action, current, waterfowl, shallow water, number of bathers, and temperature of air and water.
The following chart demonstrates the number of times Mooney’s was “posted” as “swimming not recommended”.
|Total # of postings
*Gull wires were absent in 2022.
Question #3: With the partial opening of Westboro Beach, why is the water not being tested at this location?
In accordance with the Recreational Water Protocol 2019, OPH in collaboration with Recreation Cultural and Facility Services (RCFS), conducts annual assessments of all public beaches which determines the suitability of the site for public recreational use.
This year’s assessment determined that Westboro beach would not be suitable for public reactional use, as this will be an unsupervised site and therefore no bacteriological water samples will be collected.