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SURE SIGN OF SUMMER

- Beach Testing Program Starts For Another Summer; People Encouraged to Check Conditions Before Getting into Water -

While summer does not officially begin for a few more days, there’s a sign the nice weather is almost here.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is launching its weekly beach testing program for another summer. Between now and the end August, Health Unit staff will take weekly water samples at 52 public beaches in the City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton County and Northumberland County.

Water samples from each of these beaches will be sent weekly 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 end of Thursday each week throughout June, July and August. To access the results:

• Contact your local Health Unit office or call 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.

• Follow the Health Unit on Twitter or Facebook.

“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 Debbie Johnston, 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."

Changes in water quality at local beaches can occur very rapidly and frequently, Johnston adds. For that reason, local residents should not only rely on beach testing result, but should check 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, she adds.

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For media inquiries, contact:
Debbie Johnston, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100,
or Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Environmental Health, HKPR District Health Unit, (705) 324-3569. 

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