opinion

Beach Closures Plague Vancouver and North Vancouver Amidst Unsafe Swimming Conditions

Hooray for Summer! But oh, no.

Summertime in Vancouver and North Vancouver is typically synonymous with beach days and refreshing dips in the ocean. However, this season has been marred by a series of beach closures and advisories due to unsafe swimming conditions caused by elevated bacteria levels, primarily E. coli.

These closures have impacted several popular beaches, including Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver, Second Beach, Third Beach, and Sunset Beach in downtown Vancouver. Even False Creek, a popular spot for kayaking and boating, has recorded alarmingly high E. coli levels.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), the agency responsible for monitoring water quality, has attributed the elevated bacteria levels to various factors:

  • Stormwater Runoff: This is a significant contributor, especially after heavy rainfall. Stormwater can carry pollutants, including animal waste and sewage, into the ocean, leading to bacterial contamination.
  • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs): Older sewer systems in some areas can overflow during heavy rain, releasing untreated sewage into waterways.
  • Wildlife: The presence of birds and other wildlife near beaches can also contribute to fecal contamination.
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Beaches in Greater Vancouver, BC Closed or Affected by Unsafe Swimming Waters:

City of Vancouver:

  • Second Beach: Under investigation as of June 26, 2024
  • Third Beach: Under investigation as of June 26, 2024
  • Sunset Beach: Under investigation as of June 26, 2024

North Vancouver:

  • Ambleside Beach: Not suitable for swimming advisory as of June 26, 2024

Other Locations:

  • False Creek: Not a designated swimming area, but high E. coli levels were reported as of June 26, 2024

Please Note:

  • This list is based on information available as of July 2, 2024.
  • Water quality conditions can change rapidly. Always check the latest advisories before swimming.
  • Refer to Vancouver Coastal Health for the most up-to-date information: https://www.vch.ca/en/service/public-beach-water-quality

Why is E. coli a Concern?

E. coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and animals. While most strains are harmless, some can cause illness, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. In severe cases, E. coli infection can lead to kidney problems.

Public Health Implications and Safety Measures

The closures and advisories have raised concerns about public health and the potential for illness among swimmers. VCH is actively monitoring the situation and working with local authorities to address the issue. In the meantime, residents and visitors are advised to:

  • Check for Advisories: Before heading to the beach, consult VCH’s website or app for the latest water quality information.
  • Avoid Swimming in Contaminated Water: If a beach is closed or under advisory, do not swim or engage in water activities that involve submersion.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with beach water.

Sources:

Conclusion

While the beach closures are undoubtedly disappointing for residents and visitors alike, they serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining water quality and protecting public health. By addressing the underlying causes of contamination and staying informed about advisories, we can work towards a future where everyone can safely enjoy Vancouver’s beautiful beaches.

beach closures, Vancouver, North Vancouver, unsafe swimming conditions, bacteria, E. coli, water quality, public health, advisories, stormwater runoff, combined sewer overflows

1 Comment

  1. CMcalgary

    July 6, 2024 at 1:42 am

    cool water quality map, neat idea.

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