It’s open. It’s closed. It’s open again – maybe.
Nope. Closed again.
A week ago, on Saturday, July 22, Queen’s Royal Beach was declared unsafe for swimming by the region due to high levels of bacteria like E. coli in the water.
The beach had just reopened a few days earlier after it was declared off-limits due to the same high bacteria levels.
And as of Saturday, July 29, after heavy rains it was closed again due to E. coli levels.
Brandon Krupa, the region’s manager of environmental health, said it is not known exactly what causes the levels of bacteria to rise, but that heavy rains over the past week or so could be a culprit.
“What we’ve seen in the past is that heavy rainfall is a contributing factor and any runoff that goes into the beach,” he said.
By Tuesday, July 25, Queen’s Royal was again declared OK for swimming. On Thursday, July 27, it remained open only to be closed again two days later.
Krupa added that a beach’s unique characteristics like shoreline and location, along with high winds and the runoff of contaminants, all play a role in the water’s safety.
According to the Lake Huron Coastal Centre, studies at various beaches throughout the Great Lakes indicate E. coli in the lake water can originate from multiple sources.
The primary sources are birds (such as geese and gulls that populate the beach), humans (from faulty septic systems and sewage treatment plants along a shoreline), urban runoff and agriculture.
The proportion of this bacteria in the water depends on the extent of urban development and agricultural activity within the watershed adjacent to the shoreline.
“We advise people that if you go into the water waist-deep and you can’t see your feet, it’s generally a sign that the beach water might be adverse and not safe for swimming,” he said.
The beach at Ryerson Park, about two kilometres west of Queen’s Royal, is not listed as an official beach by Niagara Region and therefore is not tested.
Queen’s Royal Beach has been open for swimming about 76 per cent of the time this season, according to data from the region.
The water at Queen’s Royal is tested each Monday, Wednesday and Friday in summer. The results are updated online at niagararegion.ca about 24 hours afterward.
The moral of the story is: before you swim, always check the region’s website or Swim Drink Fish Canada’s site at theswimguide.org/beach/57.
The next update, from Monday’s testing, will be posted by Tuesday, Aug. 1.