Read The Lake Report hereRead The Lake Report here
The Weather Network
Aug. 14, 2020 | Friday
Local News
Town now posting advisories on Queen's Royal beach conditions
Unsafe water posting. (Kevin MacLean)

Online information follows questions from Lake Report about why test results not published

 

The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has launched online advisories about beach water conditions at Queen's Royal Park.

The move comes after inquiries from The Lake Report and a story published last Thursday questioning why results of tests conducted by the Region of Niagara on behalf of the town have not been publicized.

"The town will be posting the beach status (open or closed) based on the test results" for Queen's Royal Beach, Brett Ruck, NOTL's environmental services supervisor, said in response to a list of questions.

"This is the same process that Niagara Region public health follows. The town’s beach posting webpage went live last Friday. Beach status results are available only when we receive results from public health," Ruck said.

The webpage for Queen's Royal, https://www.notl.org/queensroyalbeach, indicates whether it is safe to swim there, Lake Ontario's water temperature and when the information was updated.

Queen's Royal has failed E. coli tests at least twice so far this summer, on June 24 and July 17.

As well, Ruck said, "educational signs" will be installed at Ryerson Park beach, an unsupervised area about two kilometres west of downtown, in the Chautauqua neighbourhood. The small beach there is popular with locals and visitors alike. The water at that beach is not tested by any public agency.

The signs, warning people about the lack of testing or what conditions could lead to high levels of E. coli., were recommended by the region earlier this year, a regional official told The Lake Report last week.

"The signs will be installed shortly as there is a delay from the supplier due to COVID," Ruck said Tuesday.

In response to a question about whether the town should be concerned about legal liabilities if it doesn't publicize test results and some becomes ill from E. coli, Ruck said: "The town is always concerned when someone becomes ill in and around water, especially if caused from the water. As with any location when people swim in unposted water, they should always take precautions as they would anywhere else, posted or otherwise."

Lord Mayor Betty Disero, while "not a swimmer," noted that "any time you swim in open water, it’s important to proceed with caution whether or not signs are posted."

"I’ve kayaked from Queen's Royal Beach before and if given the opportunity to do it again, I would," she said when asked if she would go in the water there.

Queen's Royal Park, home to the iconic gazebo and a popular destination for families and visitors, is not part of Niagara's region-wide testing program because it is not busy enough to meet the region's criteria for an official beach.

The water is being tested three times a week for E. coli contamination as part of the town's Remedial Action Plan project.

That project is the final stage of repairs to the municipal sewer system, which last year was found to have been leaking raw sewage directly into Lake Ontario. The E. coli seepage problem was documented in an extensive story The Lake Report published last May.

As of now, this is the final summer that Queen's Royal Beach water is being analyzed by the region, Ruck said. "The town has requested that regional public health continue sampling this beach in the future," he said.

It is not yet known if the region will agree to continue to analyze the water there.

Ryerson Park is located not far from the region's new sewage treatment plant on Lakeshore Road and a few people have wondered if there are any worries about the unmonitored beach's proximity to the plant.

"There is no concern to the public as there are many rules in place for anything being put into the lake," Ruck said.

"The Ministry of Environment, Parks and Conservation is notified if anything is put into the lake and there are very strict guidelines put in place by the ministry that the sewage treatment plant follows."

f4033d7793009a4053c4497d8eccc3d53dc2dca8:9ae474a5238dafdd25203fbf21da363fcfcea95a