FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government released the steering committee’s final report and recommendations on Parlee Beach water quality today. The report indicates that throughout the 2017 season, the water quality was very good 95 per cent of the time and for about 99 per cent of the 1,452 samples taken and analyzed.

“Your government has been collaborating with academic and private sector experts to conduct studies to address water quality at Parlee Beach and in the Shediac Bay area,” said Environment and Local Government Minister Serge Rousselle. “Today, we are presenting the scientific work that has been completed and reviewed by the steering committee. We are proud of the work that has been accomplished and we are going to implement the 14 recommendations presented in the final report. Parlee Beach is a major tourism draw for New Brunswick and one of North America’s finest beaches. I believe we are taking an important step towards restoring confidence that Parlee Beach is a safe and clean destination for all to enjoy.”

In addition to almost $3 million invested in strategic infrastructure and studies to support water quality improvements at Parlee Beach, the government will invest a total of $760,000 to implement the 14 recommendations presented in the steering committee final report, including $595,000 in 2018-19 and $165,000 in 2019-20.

From May 15 to Oct. 9, 2017, a period of 148 days, water samples were collected daily, in accordance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality (Canadian Guidelines), at five locations equally distributed along the beach. Based on the data, the water quality was very good and suitable for swimming 95 per cent of the time. In addition, about 99 per cent of the samples taken and analyzed were below Canadian Guidelines values.

During the sampling period, there were eight days when no-swimming advisories were in place because results exceeded one of the guideline values for E. coli and enterococci as per the Canadian Guidelines. In addition, there were 15 precautionary advisory days due to rainfall, of which test results on only two days exceeded one of the guideline values.

Based upon these results, the steering committee concluded that there is no evidence of a chronic water quality issue. As in any other jurisdiction in North America, such as in Quebec, Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, it is normal to find bacteria in surface water.

“Data including wind speed and direction, number of visitors at the beach, air and water temperature, daily precipitation and tidal water levels were also collected and analyzed,” said Project Manager Jacques Paynter, FEC, P. Eng. “Based on the analysis, no strong correlation between most parameters was found. However, exceedances of the guidelines appear to be caused by an infrequent combination of meteorological and oceanographic conditions, mainly wind direction and high tide (to a lesser extent). As New Brunswick experienced an exceptionally dry summer in 2017, more data will be collected in 2018 to confirm these initial findings.”

“The work completed by the steering committee, and the results of the water monitoring over the past summer indicate that water quality at Parlee Beach is very good,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Cristin Muecke, on behalf of Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell. “The benefits of active outdoor activities like swimming, and the recreational and social benefits of spending a beautiful day at the beach far outweigh the very small risk of illness related to swimming in this beach area. That said, we will continue to put health and safety first and use the protocol we adopted last year to communicate water quality information to residents and visitors of Parlee Beach.”

“We are pleased that the government has followed through with positive actions and investments that will help us protect both the water quality at Parlee Beach and the economic vitality of our region,” said Shediac Mayor Jacques LeBlanc. “We will continue to be proactive in encouraging businesses, residents and visitors alike to make responsible individual choices to help maintain a clean and safe community.”

In 2017, the government implemented several initiatives to ensure water quality at Parlee Beach.

A new water monitoring protocol that follows Canadian Guidelines has been adopted for Parlee Beach and Murray Beach.

The government further enhanced public communication about water quality results, including posting results online and increasing on-site signage to clearly indicate whether the water was suitable for swimming, or whether a no-swimming advisory or beach closure was in effect. This communication will continue in 2018.

Parlee Beach was declared a unique feature of the environment, which means that any project or activity that takes place within the Parlee Beach watershed must be screened by the Department of Environment and Local Government to determine if it could affect the water quality at Parlee Beach. In which case, it would have to be registered for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

“Whether it is as government, property or business owner, tourism operator, recreational boater, resident or tourist – we all must continue to take action to ensure the health and safety of the public, protect the environment and maintain the Shediac area as a natural jewel of our beautiful province,” said Rousselle. “We all have a role to play to ensure its protection and safe development.”

The final report, the full list of recommendations and the government’s work plan to ensure recreational water quality at Parlee Beach for 2018 are available online.

An update on the projects announced in May 2017 is available online.