This just in: Fraser Health, a major health authority in British Columbia serving more than 1.6 million people from Burnaby to Boston Bar, now publishes recreational water quality results on its website!
This is a great news for recreational water users.
In August 2014, www.fraserhealth.ca made current information available to the public for 48 beaches in B.C. These 48 beaches have had a current status of “gray” in the Swim Guide app for the past three years, meaning no current or reliable information about the water quality was available.
Even though many of the beaches in Fraser Health’s jurisdiction are wildly popular, the lack of public access to water quality information puts water lovers at risk of getting sick from swimming in contaminated water.
By publishing up-to-date recreational water quality information, Fraser Health is helping to protect public health by letting people know whether or not water meets government standards. People can use that information to select clean places to swim, lowering their risk of contracting waterborne illnesses.
This is huge.
Much of this success is due to the persistence of Fraser Riverkeeper. For the past three years, Fraser Riverkeeper – led by executive director Lauren Brown Hornor – has recommended that B.C. health authorities share their sample results with the public in real time. (While some health units in B.C. are superb at communicating sampling results with the public, others do not receive test results or do not make this information public.)
Fraser Riverkeeper is committed to ensuring that British Columbians can swim, drink, and fish in their waters. With more than 100, 000 Canadians getting sick every year from swimming in contaminated water, the organization is acutely aware that more needs to be done to inform people about the quality of their water.
Moreover, recreational water users in B.C. must also contend with upwards of 30 billion litres of waste-water, containing more than 200 kinds of chemicals, discharged into the Fraser River and the Georgia Strait every year from combined sewage outfall (CSO) pipes.
We are delighted that our affiliate Fraser Riverkeeper can now provide our Swim Guide users with current information about the water quality at the 48 beaches monitored by Fraser Health.
Swimmable water is our main priority at Swim Guide and our main goal is to deliver to the public, in real time, information about the swimmability of their water.
“Swimmability” means that the water is safe to touch. It protects anyone using the water for recreational purposes, whether they are swimming or kayaking or sailing or wading. The water quality standards for human contact are similar to standards for environmental protection, so swimmable water is generally water that also supports life.
A special thank you to MEC and to the MEC Homewaters campaign for their support of swimmable water and for helping us strengthen the connections between communities and their beaches to ensure long-term protection of clean waterfronts and to build public support for restoration of polluted areas.
© Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, 2011 - 2018