Queen’s Royal Beach is open for swimming, though that hasn’t always been the case this summer.
Since water sampling began in May, the Region of Niagara has monitored Queen’s Royal Beach for about 105 days this summer.
On 12 of those days the beach was posted as unsafe to swim.
That equals fewer than five days a month where swimming was unsafe due to high levels of E. coli. The beach is sampled once a week between May and the middle of September.
However, while that number may seem high to some, it’s slightly lower than in previous years.
“In 2021, it was posted unsafe to swim 18.74 per cent of the time, and this year so far we have 18.42 per cent of the time,” said Peter Jekel, the manager of environmental health for Niagara Region public health.
The small improvement could be due to the changes made over the past few years under the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan.
Queen’s Royal is the only swimmable beach in the Niagara River on the Canadian side. Currently, the Niagara River is still listed on the Great Lakes Areas of Concern list. The Remedial Action Plan aims to change that.
With funding from the provincial and federal governments, the program was able to monitor and resolve issues at Queen’s Royal Beach that were contributing to higher levels of E. coli.
Contamination caused by bad sewer connections, among other problems, were repaired.
Jekel said an outfall at the beach would carry runoff water from higher ground into the river to prevent flooding.
Previously, it didn’t have a filter on it so whatever was getting into the water from above, was going into the lake.
Now, it has a filter that’s changed regularly by Niagara-on-the-Lake staff, said Jekel.
Time will tell if the changes have an impact on the quality of beach water long-term, he said.
Many factors contribute to high bacterial levels, including having a large number of swimmers, high wind and waves, large numbers of birds, heavy rainfall and cloudy water.
After a heavy rainfall, people should avoid going into the water for 24 to 48 hours depending on the length of the storm, Jekel said.
This is to air on the side of caution until the water can be tested again.
Anyone going to Queen’s Royal Beach should check the water advisory sign near the gazebo or go to the region’s website to see the latest water testing results.