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Health Unit resuming E. Coli monitoring at local beaches

You might notice some people collecting water samples if you plan to hit the beach on Canada Day.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is resuming its summertime beach monitoring program starting this week.

The program sees water from local public beaches tested once a week for E. coli, which can cause ear, eye and throat infections in swimmers who are exposed to it in high concentrations.

Susan Healey, the Health Unit’s Communications Coordinator, says if unsafe amounts of the bacteria are found, the beach will be posted to an online list, and a sign saying “unsafe for bathing” will be added.

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“[The beach] will remain posted until test results indicate that the water quality meets the bathing beach water standard,” she says.

According to Healey, testing the water like this is only one way of assessing its quality, and there are some things you should also keep in mind before you go out for a swim, like droppings from birds on the beach or in the water.

“Beach goers should also be on the lookout for the presence of harmful algal blooms and signs of accidental spills that may pollute the water,” she adds. “Remember to bring hand sanitizer so that you can clean your hands frequently, especially before eating.”

The first test results will be posted on June 30th to the Health Unit’s website and social media pages. After that, Healey says they’ll be posted weekly until the end of August.

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