Greater Vernon’s main beaches are being tested every week, and so far, all have been deemed safe to swim in.
However, Greater Vernon Advisory chair Juliette Cunningham says the situation at Kin Beach on Okanagan Lake has been confusing to the public, with contaminated water signs on the Okanagan Indian Band part of the beach, tied to the nearby flooding in June.
“So we need to clarify that because that’s what is confusing for the public. We will have to follow-up and clarify with the Okanagan Indian Band about where their testing has been occurring,” Cunningham tells Kiss FM.
Photo: Signs on OKIB part of Kin Beach in June
Cunningham says it appears the band has been doing water testing at the north end of the lake along Westside Road due to flooding issues with septic systems there.
The beaches at Kal and Paddlewheel Parks are also tested weekly, and they show acceptable levels, as does the city run portion of Kin Beach.
Regional district staff say warning signs will be erected if e-coli levels in the water are too high.
“Interior Health would give an advisory to the regional district, and the district would ask the contractors who run those beaches to post signage, or at the extreme, to close those beaches, so there is a process in place” adds Cunningham.
Meantime, GVAC director Mike Macnabb wonders if there is a faster way to test the water quality for swimmers at local beaches.
Macnabb says it can take up to 5 days to get the results for e-coli and other contaminants.
“If we sample, we don’t have an immediate response as to whether or not the water is safe for swimming. And I believe currently we sent it off to a private contractor to do the sample.”
Macnabb has asked regional district staff to see if the tests can be done in-house.
“It may give us a little faster turnaround, and then we can post whether or not it’s safe to swim.”