Maritimes under heat warnings; some Halifax-area beaches and lakes closed to swimming due to bacteria
HALIFAX -- The weekend was the beginning of what is expected to be a stretch of dangerously warm weather throughout much of the Maritimes.
Authorities are urging people with health conditions to be careful, and the soaring temperatures may only exacerbate several ongoing water quality issues.
Sunday may have been a nice day to take a dip in the water at Nova Scotia's Queensland Beach, but the beach is closed to swimming due to high levels of bacteria in the water.
Several lakes in the Dartmouth, N.S., region were already closed to swimming, due to a high bacteria level. The City of Halifax says the high bacteria reading could be due to dogs, birds, wildlife or the heat.
There are also warnings of blue-green algae blooms, which are fuelled by warm temperatures, being issued at lakes across the Halifax Regional Municipality, with people being warned to stay out to the water and keep their pets away.
The algae has been found in the Lake Major water supply, but Halifax Water says a toxin emitted from blue-green algae is still below the acceptable concentration determined by Health Canada.
"Any harmful blue-green algae that we test for are coming back non-detect, so in other words the water is perfectly safe," said James Campbell of Halifax Water. "There's no issue whatsoever with any kind of blue-green algae issues that can develop."
Lake Major supplies water for 103,000 residents in Dartmouth, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage, North Preston, Westphal, and Burnside.
Halifax Water says those who live in those communities do not have to do anything different when it comes to the water coming out of their tap.
This comes a week after advisories were issued for Lake Micmac and Lake Banook in Dartmouth, N.S.
Blue-green algae blooms are usually reported during the warmest part of summer and early fall, which means the risk is only likely to grow as the summer progresses.
With the temperature getting warmer, places like Halifax's Chocolate Lake were popular Sunday, although regular visitors say they’ve seen it busier, even during the pandemic.
“This is pretty acceptable for me, but if it got way more packed than this, it is a small area, it can get really packed,” says Victor Jones. “This is a good size for me.”
Finding a way to stay cool will become a top priority in the days ahead.
“This is when I start to feel the heat and I don’t like it,” says Danielle Wright, who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can make breathing difficult on a good day. “Especially in the heat, it bothers me even more.”
Even people without a chronic health condition need to know that heat illness can happen quickly.
“If I don’t have to go out, if it’s too hot, I won’t,” says Amanda Cleveland. “I’ll drink lots of water and just try and relax. It’s easier said than done.”
Finding that balance between weather that straddles the line between pleasant and oppressive.