'We're going to see more blooms': More swimming holes in the HRM closed due to high bacteria levels
The Halifax Regional Municipality is advising residents that Kinap Beach in Porters Lake, N.S. and the beach at Albro Lake in Dartmouth, N.S. will be closed until further notice due to high bacteria levels in the water. Both beaches were set to officially open on July 1.
“Albro Lake of course is a freshwater beach, so E. coli is bacteria of concern there and that comes from different fecal matter. It could be from dogs, it could from birds, it could be from deer nearby,” said Emma Wattie, HRM Water Resources Specialist.
Wattie said the bacteria of interest at Kinap Beach is Enterococcus.
“And they’re both present in fecal coliform but one is more prevalent in fresh water versus salt water,” she said.
The advisories come as that province confirms a blue-green algae bloom on Ogden Lake in Yarmouth County just weeks after it was detected at Grand Lake outside of Halifax.
“We’re going to see more blooms this year than last year, at least,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, director of the water branch for Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change.
Kennedy said algae does really well in conditions where the water is warm and stagnant and when they have a big rush of nutrients that cause them to grow very quickly – something that can occur when the air is warm and after rainfall.
She’s encouraging people who spot something that may be blue-green algae to report it.
“The monitoring that we do is really by relying on people in the public to report to us when they see an algae bloom and we’ll go investigate and confirm whether blue-green algae is present,” Kennedy said.
Experts say drinking or swimming in contaminated water could be harmful.
“If you drink water that has E. coli in it, that could cause some stomach upset for you. Some vomiting or some diarrhea. And if you drink a lot of that water you might have some more severe symptoms,” said Dr. Austin Zygmunt, a Regional Medical Officer of Health with the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Zygmunt said if someone comes into contact with the bacteria that causes blue-green algae and the blooms, they could have a rash, vomiting or diarrhea.
The HRM will test the water at its municipal beaches weekly for bacteria from now until the end of August.
HRM Municipal beaches open for the summer season on July 1 and are supervised during weekdays from then until August 31 each year.
Wattie said if anyone in the HRM suspects they see blue-green algae, they should take a photo and call 311. At that point, either HRM staff or the province will go and check on it.