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Beach Reports

Current Beach Report  - September 13, 2013 (Pdf) Last Report for 2013

Frequently Asked Questions

Why monitor beaches?How are beaches chosen for sampling?

How often are beaches sampled?

When are beaches posted?

Who can I contact for more information?

Why monitor beaches?

Beaches are monitored to protect swimmers from illnesses that may be linked to unacceptable bacteria levels. Swimming in water with unacceptable bacteria levels can increase the risk of ear, nose and throat infection or stomach illnesses. 

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How are the beaches chosen for sampling?

Beaches are classified according to the number of swimmers using them, risk of pollution, sampling history and other factors. It is not possible to sample every beach or body of water where people may swim from time to time.

A classification system is used to determine which beach will be sampled and how often during the bathing season, which is explained next. 

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How often are beaches sampled?

Tier three: A beach is labeled tier three if many people swim there, there have been high bacterial counts in the past, and there may be sources of contamination near the beach.

These beaches are sampled  weekly during the swimming season.

Tier two: A tier two beach has a moderate number of people swimming at it, a history of  occasional poor samples (i.e. one incident of high bacteria  over several years) and little chance of  contamination.  

These beaches are sampled every two weeks during the swimming season.

Tier one: A tier one beach has few swimmers using it, a good sampling history, (i.e. no incidences of high bacteria in the past) and  no sources of contamination. They also have frequent water turn over due to tides, currents or water flow.  

These beaches are not sampled unless an environmental health officer believes it is necessary to do so.

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When are beaches posted?

Public beaches are not technically "closed" to public access. A warning sign is posted advising the public that the water may be unsafe for swimming.

Signs are posted when: 

  • the geometric mean of the sampling results exceeds 200 faecal coliform per 100 mL of water, or
  • when circumstances warrant.

These sampling results indicate a higher risk of infection. Warning signs remain posted until sample results are once again within acceptable limits. 

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Who can I contact for more information?

Northern Beaches  - Courtenay Office
250. 331.8518

Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni
Nanaimo Office
250.755.6215

Duncan/Cowichan -  Duncan Office
250.737.2010

Greater Victoria -  Gateway Village
 250.519.3401

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