The local health unit’s Beach Water Testing Program has kicked in.

If you’re keen to swim in local lakes and waterways, the Health Unit’s beach water testing program is surfacing just in time.

Starting this week and running through the Labour Day weekend, the health Unit will regularly test the water at the County of Haliburton’s public beaches. 

Water samples will be tested for E.coli to determine if local beaches are safe for public use. 

The Health Unit will update beach water test results by late Thursday or early Friday each week. People can find results on the Health Unit website. Warning signs will also be put up at beaches when it’s unsafe to swim.

This year, the Health Unit is again using its three-colour system to report beach water test results:

  • Green means a beach is open/safe for swimming.
  • Yellow is a warning that high counts of bacteria may be present in the water and swimming is not advised at this time as it may lead to illness. 
    • If people choose to swim, they should avoid dunking their heads or swallowing water.
  • Red means a beach is closed due to high levels of bacteria that make it unsafe for swimming.

High levels of bacteria can persist for up to 48 hours after heavy rainfall. 

High winds or wave activity can drive up bacterial counts, as can the presence of a large number of birds, such as geese or seagulls nesting near the beach, whose fecal matter can impact water quality.