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BEACH TESTING BEGINS

- Health Unit Encourages People to Check Beach Test Results and Conditions Before Getting into Water -

If you’re making a trip to the beach this summer, remember this tip before taking a dip in the water.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit advises area residents and visitors to be “beach smart” before they swim or use the water at beaches in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County. This reminder comes as the Health Unit kicks off its 2014 beach testing program.

“It’s important to be beach smart by checking with the Health Unit on a regular basis to see if local beaches are safe for public use,” says Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “Under certain circumstances, beaches can provide more than just fun and recreation. They may also pose a risk for swimmers.”

Between now and the end of August, Health Unit staff will take weekly water samples at dozens of public beaches in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County.

Water samples from these beaches will be sent each week to the public health lab in Peterborough to test for bacteria such as E.coli. Based on test results, the Health Unit will determine if the water quality at a beach is safe for swimming and public use. If bacterial levels in the water are higher than those considered acceptable by the Ontario government, the beach will be ‘POSTED’ as unsafe for swimming. ‘POSTED’ signs will also be put up along the beach to show it is unsafe for public use.

Beach test results will be available by late Thursday or early Friday each week through June, July and August. To access the results:

  • Call your local Health Unit office or phone the toll-free line at 1-866-888-4577
  • Visit the Health Unit website (www.hkpr.on.ca) and click on the ‘Beach Test Results’ link.

Changes in water quality at local beaches can occur very rapidly and frequently. For that reason, Ovcharovich advises people to watch for other factors that could affect how safe it is for swimming. Bacterial counts in the water can increase due to heavy rain, high winds or wave activity, and a large number of birds such as geese or seagulls nesting near the beach. Other warning signs, like floating debris, oil, discoloured water, bad odours and excessive weed growth, can also suggest the beach is unsafe to use, he adds.

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NOTE TO MEDIA: Members of the media can get weekly beach results at www.hkpr.on.ca or by following the Health Unit on Twitter (@HKPRDHU) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/HKPRDHU).

For media inquiries, contact:

Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569.

or Christopher Beveridge, Director of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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