When Douglass Beach closed for a day on July 19, many wondered how such a facility could be closed so quickly and for such a short time. To understand better how the beach is monitored for health safety, Tempo looked at the various testings done by the town and the Department of the Environment. Since 2013, when the lake was closed due to a major cover of blue green algae, several safety protocols were put in place.
Twice during swimming season, the Quebec Department of the Environment tests the water at the beach for fecal coliform bacteria. Although it is not legally bound to do so, the town also tests the water every two weeks as a precaution.
This year, the Environment Department ran its test the day after a heavy rainfall, one of many we had this summer. According to TBL Director-General Gilbert Arel “heavy rainfalls always bring contaminants to the beach, animal droppings are washed away on the beach, thus the reading that forced the closing of the beach.” The day after, the readings were clear and the beach was reopened.
When asked if the possible overflow of town sewage could be responsible for the fecal coliform count, Arel was adamant. “There was no overflow near the beach. The last time a sewage overflow happened, it was in March during Spring thaw and it was in the Bondville sector, quite far away from the beach.”
According to TBL’s Department of Public Works no other sewage overflow has occurred recently.