Canal Beach closed to swimming due to high bacterial counts

This is the third advisory for the beach in three years

The beach at Canal Waterfront Park in Port Alberni is closed due to high bacterial counts. (June 9, 2021) (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The beach at Canal Waterfront Park in Port Alberni is closed due to high bacterial counts. (June 9, 2021) (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Canal Waterfront Park in Port Alberni is under a water advisory due to high bacterial counts.

Island Health issued the advisory on June 7, 2021. The City of Port Alberni put signs up on the beach the same day warning that the area is unsafe for swimming or other water contact activities.

Water samples taken on June 6, 2021 showed a level of 105 enterococci per 100 millilitres of water, where safe numbers are 35 or less for salt water (which Canal Beach is). Island Health closes a swimming area when there are 70 parts of enterococci or fewer in a 100 mL sample.

Water samples taken on May 18 showed five parts per 100 mL.

A second water sampling site on Canal Beach showed low numbers (less than 10) for both May 18 and June 2.

READ: Port Alberni beach closed due to high bacterial count

Island Health noted that beach sampling for 2021 resumed in May, and deputy city clerk Sara Darling confirmed testing began last month at Canal Waterfront Park beach. A beach under advisory must have two consecutive clear samples before it may reopen.

The city conducts monthly water testing at the Canal Waterfront Park beach access point as well as other water accesses. Results are regularly sent to Island Health. When readings are elevated, testing happens more frequently.

Darling said a clear sample was recorded on Tuesday, June 8, and another sample taken on Wednesday, June 9 has been submitted for inspection. Results had not been posted by June 14, nor had the Island Health website been updated.

“We don’t know the source (of bacteria),” she said late Wednesday, June 9. “We do tests at multiple sites. The other sites were far below the average (acceptable) level.”

The beach at Canal Waterfront Park has been the subject of advisories for the past two years.

In July 2019 the beach remained closed for a few weeks due to high counts of enterococci, or bacteria found in feces, in the water.

The beach was also closed in July 2020 due to high levels of bacteria. At that time people complained that the city hadn’t done enough to get the word out about the beach closure beyond posting signs at the beach.

RELATED: Canal Beach in Port Alberni open for swimming (2020)

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Island HealthPort AlberniVancouver Island Health Authority