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Parlee Beach, N.B., receiving stormwater quality improvement system

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Beachgoers enjoying the warm May temperatures have likely noticed a big project taking place at Parlee Beach Provincial Park in Pointe-du-Chêne, N.B.

A new stormwater quality improvement system is being added near the main parking lot at the entrance to the park.

Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture spokesperson Heather Pert said the stormwater to the south of the tidal creek will be collected by a new storm sewer system which directs runoff to a new pumping facility.

Arthur Melanson, vice-president of Red Dot Association of Shediac Bay, a community-based environmental group, called the project beneficial.

“It is positive. It’ll take the contamination that’s coming from those little streams. It’ll take that out of there,” said Melanson. “Except, it’s one of those questions, is it going far enough? Is this where the problem is?”

Construction work at Parlee Beach. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)There were 23 no-swim advisories due to sample results at Parlee Beach last year, including two separate weeks of five advisories in a row.

In 2022, there were 22 no-swim warnings.

The advisories go into effect when bacterial levels are above national guidelines.

Melanson said Red Dot has asked the provincial government a number of times if they could do some DNA analysis to analyze what is really going in the ocean as far as contaminates.

“Is it human? Is it animals?” said Melanson.

Water from the lagoon near the beach will be treated with cartridge filters and UV disinfection, according to the province.

Shediac Bay Watershed Association executive manager Jolyne Hébert was asked if the project will improve the water quality at Parlee.

“It’s a more complex issue than that,” said Hébert. “We need to look at the bigger picture. We need to look at the watershed level. Everything that’s going on in the watershed is going to affect the beach.”

Hébert said what the province is doing is a great example and a great demonstration project of what her association would like to see happening all over the surrounding area.

A stormwater quality improvement system being installed at Parlee Beach Provincial Park in May 2024. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)“If we can treat stormwater runoff at the source, running off from different impervious surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, roads, we would be improving water quality in general, because what’s going on at the beach isn’t caused by the [provincial] park itself, it’s caused by everything going on in the surrounding territory,” said Hébert.

Melanson would like to see the province be more transparent when it comes to what’s contaminating the water.

He’d also like to see a different water testing process being used.

Right now, advisories come 24 hours after the samples were selected and tested in a lab.

“It comes in the day after. Take the sample this morning. Get it analyzed, get the analysis tomorrow morning and then they post according to what the analysis are,” said Melanson.

No-swim advisories have been an issue at the beach for years due to due to high E. coli and enterococcus counts.

Possible causes range from surface water runoff from agriculture and urban areas, sewage system overflows, birds, wild and domesticated animals, and fecal matter from swimmers.

Hébert said the testing process is a scientific method and it takes a period of 24-hours of incubation for the bacteria to grow, but she realizes it is an issue.

“We understand that it is challenging and sometimes frustrating that we don’t know the same day,” said Hébert.

Parlee Beach Provincial Park is pictured in Pointe-du-Chêne, N.B. (Derek Haggett/CTV News Atlantic)Pert said the sequencing of the project was organized in a way to complete the storm sewer infrastructure during Parlee's off-season in order to not interrupt access to the park and parking lot.

"The work during the tourist season will primarily consist of work in and around the pumping facility, which will not significantly impact park access or parking," said Pert in an email to CTV News.

CTV News asked the province what the cost and timeline was for the project, but did not hear back by deadline. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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