City aims to post water quality signs at Youghall Beach

City of Bathurst is planning to make information on water quality at Youghall Beach more accessible to the public.

“If there was a situation where the levels of bacteria were to approach a cautionary level, when they [Health Protection Branch] would advise that, we would enact a public advisory accordingly,” Luc Foulem, corporate communications manager for the City of Bathurst.

With Parlee Beach in Shediac and Murray Beach in Little Shemogue under “no-swimming” advisories because of water showing signs of faecal contamination, there have been concerns raised in the community.

Foulem said the City’s Facebook page received a message from a community citizen inquiring whether it would be possible to see the data for water quality at Youghall Beach. 

He explained the city had commenced preliminary discussions with the office of public health to establish a process where the city could obtain data of water quality at Youghall from them on a regular basis and post it on the City website. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Mariane Pâquet, Regional Medical Officer of Health - North, said the beach has not had to issue a no-swimming advisory in eight years.  

“Water quality issues are uncommon at this beach,” she said in an e-mail interview with The Northern Light on July 27.

Pâquet said the water at Youghall is sampled on a bi-weekly basis. Adding the best indicator of poor water quality for salt water are levels of enterococci bacteria.

“The most recent recreational water samples were taken at Youghall beach on July 25,” she said on Aug. 1. “A series of three samples were taken at the beach (left side, centre, right side) and test results showed 10 enterococci [bacteria] or less at each location.”

According to the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality, Pâquet said, the guideline values for maximum enterococci bacteria concentration are: “less than or equal to 35 per 100 ml when a geometric mean is taken from a minimum of five samples and less than or equal to 70 per 100 ml for a single sample.”

Once the samples are collected by the Department of Justice and Public Safety, they are sent for testing to RPC labs, which is a research and technology organization based in Fredericton, Pâquet said. 

When the testing is complete, she said, the results are sent to the regional director of the Regional Health Protection Branch – North.

The regional director follows up by reviewing the results and if the guideline values of bacteria in the water exceed those recommended by the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality, she said, the Regional Medical Officer of Health (RMOH) is notified.

Pâquet said the RMOH then determines whether a follow up sample is needed or if the public needs to be notified about the water not being suitable for swimming. 

Foulem said the process for implementing a process to have water quality data available to the public had begun.

”We are beginning the process to get it done for next season where we would have the data accessible and the necessary signage posted at Youghall for all to see and have access to.”

Foulem said sharing the data publicly would help promote Youghall beach. 

“It’s a bonus element to talk about the water quality which at the beach has historically been very safe and it is good for us to be able to have data to back that up and share that data publicly.”

Paquet said the “no swimming advisory” signage would be posted by someone within the Health Protection Branch at Youghall Beach itself, if a situation of bad water quality arises. 

Using Format