Beach Advisory - Indicates the water may be unsafe for swimming
Beach Sampling for 2016 is now complete
Sampling with start again May 2017
For water sampling results and explanations of the results see the PDF links below(2016).
South Island Beaches, Central Island Beaches, North Island Beaches
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?
Beaches are monitored to protect swimmers from illnesses that may be linked to unacceptable Levels of bacteria. Swimming in contaminated water can result in increased risk of ear, nose and throat infections or gastrointestinal illnesses.
Island Health samples beaches that are formally recognized public recreational water bathing areas, with lands controlled by a federal, provincial, regional or municipal body/agency, which provide access to ocean, lake or river water. Private beaches where the public may have access through the owner, and “unofficial” bathing areas that may lie on public lands are not included in the sampling program.
Beach sampling generally begins at the beginning of May and runs through until Labour Day. Each beach is assessed by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) based on usage, previous sample results and potential sources of contamination. Once assessed, the beaches are given a sampling frequency based on the following:
HIGH – Sampled weekly
MODERATE – Sampled every two weeks
LOW – Sampled monthly
VERY LOW – Not sampled unless EHO believes it is necessary to do so
What Do We Sample For?
We sample for indicator bacteria that help to identify the presence of fecal contamination and provide an indication of the potential risk present in the beach water. The indicator bacteria used depends on the type of water sampled. E.coli is used at fresh water beaches and Enterococci is used at salt water beaches.
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.
Beach advisories will automatically be posted when a sample result of over 1000 E. Coli or 175 Enterocci per sample is received, as studies indicate there is an elevated risk associated with these bacterial levels.
Consideration to posting a beach advisory will occur when:
- the average of the past several sample results (also called a “geometric mean”) exceeds 200 E. Coli or 35 Enterococci, or
- a single sample result exceeds 400 E. coli or 70 Enterococci per sample, or
- other public health hazards are identified.
North Island Beaches (Courtenay, Comox, Campbell River, Port Hardy)
Central Island Beaches (Ladysmith, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum, Port Alberni)
Cowichan Valley Beaches (Chemainus, Duncan, Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake, Lake Cowichan)
Greater Victoria Beaches