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Water Today Title January 27, 2021

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Advisory of the Day


This story is brought to you in part by Waterloo Biofilter Systems

For a third consecutive year Bayfront Park beach will be closed because of high E. coli levels and Blue-green algae.

Based on a report presented May 14 to Hamilton`s Board of Health, the fecal and cyanobacteria contamination jeopardizes the future of the two harbour area beaches, Bayfront Park and Pier 4.

The Hamilton Public Health Services beach monitoring report described the Bayfront Beach water quality as unsafe 73% of the last year's swimming season.

The water quality study completed by the City of Hamilton Public Works Department and the Hamilton Waterfront Trust showed that during half of the days of the swimming season E. coli concentrations exceeded the threshold set by the recreational water quality guideline in Ontario. The water study also described that microcystin concentrations from cyanobacteria, blue-green algae, exceeded warning levels 52% of the swimming season.

"If Bayfront Beach had not been closed for the 2017 season, beach users could have been placed at a significant risk of being exposed to pathogenic microorganisms," stated the monitoring report. "Hamilton Public Health Services cannot recommend that Bayfront Beach is suitable for public recreational."

The main source of high concentration levels of bacteria in the water are waterfowl faecal droppings, (bird droppings) and a human-made topography that prevents water to be exposed to harbour currents and doesn't allow bacteria to be dispersed and diluted. Bayfront Park beach is an artificial landscape built in 1993 during the development of Bayfront Park.

In the case of Pier 4 beach, the water quality study performed by Public Health Services showed that water quality was unsafe for 70% of the swimming season due to mostly high algae concentrations.

"Pier 4 Park Beach would have been open to users for 67% of the season despite the high-water levels, if microcystin producing cyanobacteria were not present," informed the report.

Last year the city increased the surveillance and harassment of bird populations in the area, increased efforts on the decontamination of beach sands with hydrogen peroxide and tried to control concentration levels of algae. Despite these efforts, there wasn't a significant improvement at Bayfront Park beach and a deteriorating tendency was observed at Pier 4 beach.

Pier 4 beach will open this year but its future is uncertain. "Public Health Services will likely recommend closure of Pier 4 Beach (similar to Bayfront Beach) for the 2019 swimming season if a significant improvement in water quality does not occur during the 2018 monitoring season," warned the report.

Among different suggested options, the city of Hamilton is studying the possibility of transforming the two harbour area beaches into wetlands or other recreational activity areas where it does not involve swimming.

Residents in Hamilton have access to other beaches that are deemed safe most of the swimming season: three beaches on Lake Ontario (Beach Boulevard, Van Wagner's and Confederation Park) and three on conservation areas (Binbrook, Christie and Valens).


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