RESULTS OF E. COLI SAMPLING IN TINY TOWNSHIP’S RECREATIONAL WATERS
— Summer 2001-2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
NOTE: During these summers, water samples were taken in swimming waters along the 72 kilometres of Tiny’s shore and from streams entering the Bay in the Township. The Simcoe County District Health Unit (later renamed the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit) monitored a variable number of beach parks and public access points, 15 at its most expansive, recently only five or six. Every year Awenda Park staff sampled Awenda’s four beaches, and camp staff took samples at Camp Marygrove. Beach association volunteers sampled variable stretches of the balance of the shore and many streams, at 100 points in 2001, the inaugural and most thorough year. Until 2004 all volunteer samples were taken according to the Health Unit’s protocol — from water at a depth of a metre to a metre and a half; in 2004, as later, a couple of beaches also sampled shallower, toddler-depth water. The stream samples were taken as the Health Unit advised. Samples were taken once a week, usually on the day immediately after a weekend. Every sampling year, the volunteers attended a brush-up session a week or so before sampling began for the nine weeks of the summer.
Analysis: Laboratories — the provincial Laboratory in Orillia in the case of the Health Unit and Central Ontario Analytical Laboratory until 2014 and the Aquatic & Environmental Laboratory from 2016 on in the case of the volunteers — analysed each sample for the number of E. coli bacteria cfu (colony forming units) per 100 ml of water. E. coli is used because it is an indicator of recent focal pollution by warm-blooded animals. In the years since the volunteer program began, research has revealed that 30-40% of E. coli in recreational water comes from permanent colonies in shore and bottom sand. Nonetheless, it remains the single best indicator of the health of swimming water. Only a few of the many kinds of E. coli cause illness in humans, but their presence indicates the possible presence of other fecal pathogens. Swimming in water with unacceptable levels of E. coli increases the risk of infections of the ears, eyes, nose and throat, or of gastrointestinal or stomach illnesses if water is swallowed.
The Health Unit typically takes five or six samples at each beach (as do the Park and Camp) spaced 50 to 100 feet or so apart. The geometric mean (a type of average that minimises the effect of very high or very low numbers) of the results from samples taken at a particular beach is then calculated. When the geometric mean of the sampling results exceeds 100 E. coli cfu, beach posting is considered in relation to recorded data on beach water conditions. We note that in 2016, posting was advised only twice, when the geometric mean at Concession 13 West Beach was 174 and 371 on August 17 and August 23. The signs normally remain posted at the beach until sample testing shows the risk to bathers is once again within acceptable limits. Posting was not recommended at several other beaches when the geometric means were only slightly above 100, namely 102, 103, 107, and 101, or when a high count came at the end of the summer.
The volunteers took spaced individual samples, not with the intention of posting, but to get a sense of water quality at specific points along the shore.
The conditions under which the samples were taken are noted by all samplers: rainfall, wind direction, sunlight, bather density, waterfowl presence, wave action, water clarity, presence of algae. All these factors are taken into consideration when the results are assessed.
Streams often have higher counts than bay or lake water.
Sources of E. coli?
– sand colonies
– sewage from sewer overflows
– faulty septic systems
– agricultural runoff
– large populations of water fowl
– dog dirt
– goose poop
Beach postings often occur after rainstorms. Rain washes fecal material from livestock, cats, dogs, birds and other wildlife into ditches and sewers and thence into rivers and lakes. Also, high winds and waves stir up sediments and shore sand and may increase E. coli counts for a day or two.
How to Help?
– Pet owners should “stoop and scoop.”
– Septic systems should be kept in good working order.
– In agricultural areas, livestock should be kept away from streams and provided with alternate water sources.
– Runoff from feedlots and manure piles must be properly contained.
DOCUMENTS OF INTEREST
Ms. Brenda Armstrong, Safe Water Program Manager, SCDHU: re 2013 Beach Reporting HERE (pdf)
Dr. Clare Robinson, PhD Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Western University, re: “Characterization of groundwater and water quality (nutrient and E. Coli) at Tiny Beaches” HERE (pdf)
For the 2016 Results, click HERE.
For the 2014 Results, click HERE.
For the 2012 Results, click HERE.
For the 2010 Results, click HERE.
Severn Sound Environmental Association’s September 2008 report “Summary and Conclusions” under Water Reports HERE (pdf)
For the 2008 Results, click HERE.
Recent Environment Canada E. coli Studies at Tiny Township’s Beaches: A Summary of Environment Canada’s President to Tiny Township council (March 12, 2007) HERE (pdf)
For Allan Crowe’s presentation on “E. coli & Tiny Township’s Beaches:
Environment Canada’s Studies 2005-2007” click HERE*.
For the 2006 Results, click HERE*.
For the report the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has put together concerning the results of its monitoring of public beaches in Tiny Township, 2003-2005, click HERE*.
For the Severn Sound Environmental Association’s “Tiny Beaches Investigation 2005”, click HERE*.
For the letter the Federation sent to Council concerning the volunteer water sampling program in 2005, click HERE*.
For the 2005 Results, click HERE*.
For the 2004 Results, click HERE*.
For the Federation’s Oral Presentation to Council about Recreational Water Results 2001-2004, click HERE*.
For the 2003 Results, click HERE*.
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