Ottawa is set to expect a steamy long Canada Day weekend which inspires the pleasant thought of heading to the beach to cool off. Last year, Ottawa experienced a bout of bad luck with the amount of safe, swimmable days they could offer to the public. The city issued a whopping 64 “no swim” days due to the mass amounts of rain that resulted in a number of floods. In 2016, we experienced 48. This summer is predicted to be a hot and humid one, so what does that mean for better swimming conditions?
According to Ottawa Public Health, water samples are collected on a daily basis to test for E. coli bacteria from June 16 to August 26 this year. It’s important not to swim when E. coli levels are high in order to prevent certain illnesses and infections such as skin, ear, throat or gastro-intestinal illnesses. As of today, all Ottawa beaches meet safety standards for swimming, with Petrie Island surprisingly containing the lowest level of E. coli at the moment.
Petrie Island is downstream in the Ottawa River which means it usually gets the worst of sewage overflows during large amounts of rainfalls. Historically, Brittania beach has been one of the cleanest and safest beaches to swim at. This is because the large pier at the beach deflects some contamination away from the shore where people swim. On top of that, they have wires that are used to scare off birds and they are also situated the most upstream from the Ottawa/Gatineau downtown.
Although June 17th was our only no-swim advisory day so far (issued for Britannia Beach), some people are predicting more no-swim advisories in our near future due to some extreme weather predictions. According to Ottawa Public Health and scientists, bacteria levels in the Ottawa river are caused by many different environmental factors including rainfall, positioning on the river, wildlife, and extreme shifts in weather conditions.
Let’s ask the crowd what they think: Will Ottawa have 60 more “no swim day advisories at its beaches this summer? Send your forecasts and let us know!