N.B. brings in new water-testing protocol for provincial park beaches
Changes in water protocols are being made at provincial park beaches in New Brunswick.
This comes following years of water-quality issues at Parlee Beach in Shediac.
Part of the new Parlee protocol will include more transparency. An automated system will be added to see water quality test results online and precautionary rainfall advisories will no longer be issued.
“Of the 28 precautionary rainfall advisories posted throughout the last two years, only 4 accurately represented water bacteria levels,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Last Tuesday the first no-swimming advisory of the year was issued after one of Monday's samples came back with high levels of possible fecal contamination.
The advisory came a couple weeks after the beach was awarded the Blue Flag eco-certification.
“I think a lot of people were saying there mixed messages,” said Alan Bard, the assistant deputy minister of the department of tourism, culture and heritage. “No, there wasn’t … the designation is for the whole season. … If we do have a bad sample, the flag will not go down.”
With not enough correlation between rainfall and bacteria, advisories are expected to drop significantly -- but not entirely.
“We will have samples potentially down the road that will be negative,” Bard said. “It only takes one sample for us to trigger the advisory.”
The Shediac Bay Watershed Association has been helping with those samples and taking on projects to get to the root of the possible contamination.
“Help store more storm water runoff, work with farmers, work with boaters to make sure that we reduce as much as we can any possible contamination in Shediac Bay,” said Remi Donelle of the Shediac Bay Watershed Association.
Arthur Melanson of the Red Dot Association says he’s happy the government is addressing the issue.
“There is some satisfaction in it, that they’re continuing to look,” said Arthur Melanson.“They’re not taking it and sweeping it under the rug, they're taking it and doing some work on it.”
And it's not bothering beach-goers, who say they follow the guidelines closely.
“As long as the water is fine to swim in, and they say the advisory is good, I’d swim in the water,” said Brad White.
Something that provincial officials say they will be monitoring closely.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kate Walker.