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Beaches Shut Due to High E-coli Level in Water

Public Health has shut down the beaches in some provinces of Canada after 10 water sample tests over the past two weeks showed higher than acceptable levels of E.coli organisms.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFLA) Public Health inspectors closed the beach to swimmers after conducting 10 water sample tests over the past two weeks. Chenier said the highest results that came back from the beach's water were three times the maximum level for safe swimming. He's warning beach-goers against entering the water.

The next round of test results won't be returned to Public Health inspectors until next Tuesday or Wednesday.

"At this point our public health inspectors don't know the cause of the high levels of organisms in the water. The only thing they're sure of is that it's not a safe place to swim right now," said Justin Chenier, communications officer for the health department.

"We had some beaches that were closed last year because of E.coli. There was never a source found," he said. "It could be a boat with a leak in it. Usually it's attributed to geese and geese droppings." Provincial officials were advising people using the beaches to avoid swallowing lake water, wash their hands before handling food and stay out of the water if they have cuts or wounds.

But given the high numbers, Bill Paton, a biology professor at Brandon University, said he would avoid going in any water where signs are posted.

"These are indicators that there could potentially be in the water as well, salmonella, hepatitis and many other kinds of problems that are carried in fecal matter," he said.

Paton suggested the recent heavy rains may be behind the high E. coli counts, noting the rain causes more runoff from fields where fertilizer has been spread into streams and rivers and eventually the lake. Heavy rain could also cause more sewer outflows, he said.

The beach will reopen when test results come back consistently safe.

Last year KFL&A Public Health updated the signs it posts at closed beaches to a larger format with a much bolder message.


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