Swim Guide shows historically poor water quality at Beaverton beaches

Lake Simcoe

To the editor:

Ready to go swimming? Probably not yet with the lake blanketed with ice and snow.

Planning on a dip in the lake over the summer period? Hold on! Have you had a look at the online Swim Guide? The Swim guide provides free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the US., and other countries. It is maintained and updated by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper using data collected by the various health authorities responsible for collecting such data.

The beaches at Beaverton, designated as Beaverton North and Beaverton South have historical “red” failing statuses for 2017. This is the worst status given out. Guess how many of the other 30+ beaches on Lake Simcoe have a “red” failing grade for 2017. NONE!

Sampling is done for (approximately) 13 weeks of the swimming season from early June to the end of August. Beaches are posted as unsafe for swimming when the geometric mean of 5 samples, taken each week at each beach, exceed 100 E.coli / 100 ml of water.

In 2017, for Beaverton North this occurred 57% of time and for Beaverton South 71% of time, worst on the lake. It sure doesn’t leave much time for swimming, nor does it instill much confidence in the quality of the water, either at the beaches or along the shoreline.

Remember E.coli is just one of many types of bacteria present and is used as an indicator of other bacteria contaminants that may be present but not as easy to detect.

This is not just a 2017 issue. A quick scan of data on the Swim Guide website back to 2012 shows the two Beaverton beaches regularly in the red, and as well Thorah Centennial Beach just to the north of Beaverton.

Adding insult to injury for those of us who like to use the lake to swim was the major sediment run-off into the lake on June 24, 2017. This resulted in the bay between the Beaverton pier and Trent canal being filled with suspended sediment for over 4 weeks, making it unusable for swimming, clogging filters, and again making us wary of what other “little friendlies” are lurking in the water.  This too has been going on for a decade with the bay filling up with sediment runoff after major and not major rainfalls.

We have continuously called these into the Spill Hotline managed by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) as this represents a source of pollution into the lake.

We are appreciative of the motion passed by Brock Township Council on Oct 02, 2017 calling for the MOECC to formally investigate reports of pollution and sediment release into Lake Simcoe. This is but a first step of course as we wait to see what action is taken to resolve these matters. They are long standing problems and people need to make their voices heard or the Lake Simcoe “jewel” will continue to deteriorate.

Kevin Thompson