Metro Vancouver has started its annual testing of bacteria levels in the region’s swimming and selected non-swimming beaches. Samples are collected and tested daily from May to September and less frequently outside this period. Health authorities will use the results to determine whether the beaches are safe for recreational use or if they should post notices to inform users of a possible risk.
If bacterial counts are elevated, Metro Vancouver will conduct additional checks of its wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system to confirm operations are functioning normally. Metro Vancouver staff also co-ordinates with municipal counterparts, who will check their systems to ensure there are no anomalies that may result in deterioration of water quality.
In some instances, special investigations are conducted to confirm or eliminate possible sources of contamination.
Bacterial levels may be affected by a number of sources including direct contact with humans and animals, such as dogs, geese and gulls, combined sewer overflows, storm water and agricultural runoff, malfunction in the treatment or collection system, and sanitary discharges from boats.
Water quality during the 2017 recreational season was very good and the Health Canada guideline was not exceeded at any swimming beaches.
For more videos about how Metro Vancouver protects human health and the environment, visit our Video Gallery.