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Water Today Title November 27, 2020

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New Brunswick's Health Department announced on May 18 that they would expand their water monitoring protocol to eight provincial park beaches. Before that swimmers had no way of knowing the state of the water quality with the exception of Parlee and Murray Beaches.

The protocol was originally created for popular Parlee Beach in 2017 after high fecal counts led to a decline in visitors and a demonstration in the nearby town of Shediac. Residents and business owners asked the government to do more to protect water quality at the province's beaches.

Under the new protocol water samples are collected from five locations at each beach and are sent for analysis. They are then reviewed by a medical officer of health who decides if a no swimming advisory needs to be enacted. If an advisory is in effect a sign will be posted on the beach itself.

All water quality results can also be found online at beaches.gnb.ca and should be followed closely as changes in water quality can occur quickly. For instance, a no swimming advisory for New River Beach Provincial Park was posted for May 17 due to a sample result that indicated significant levels of fecal bacteria were present, but by May 19 that advisory had been removed.

Currently, the other beaches deemed suitable for swimming are the Mactaquac Provincial Park Camping and Main Beaches, and Oak Bay Provincial Park.

On the other hand Miscou, Mount Carleton, Murray, Parlee and Val-Comeau Provincial Park Beaches are undetermined. As the website explains, "this is due to the time it takes to collect the samples, send them to the lab, and complete the analysis."
  • In a press release, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said water quality would be maintained according to The Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality which "have established guideline values that strike a balance between potential health risks and the benefits of recreational water use in terms of physical activity and enjoyment."

  • Because of its popularity Parlee Beach will be monitored daily; while Murray Beach, Mactaquac, New River, Mount Carleton and Oak Bay will be monitored one to three times a week. Finally, Miscou and Val-Comeau will be monitored once every two weeks. The beaches selected and the frequencies at which they are monitored have been determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer based on risk assessments.

Dr. Russell explained that like anything else in life, when you go for a swim there are always slight health risks involved.

Russell said "there are precautions that you can take every day, regardless of signage, to protect yourself from potential risks associated with recreational water use, including not swallowing the water whenever possible, not exposing open cuts, wounds, or sores to the water, and washing your hands and/or using shower facilities to rinse off after being in the water."


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