SHEDIAC (GNB) – The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is updating the recreational water quality monitoring protocol at Parlee Beach for the upcoming swimming season. The new protocol will continue to meet federal water quality guidelines and will adopt lessons learned during the last two summers of daily water testing.

Changes to the protocol include adding an automated system that will post water quality test results online and requiring that no-swimming advisories be triggered by poor test results rather than by rainfall alone.

“Protecting the health and safety of the public remains our top priority,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health. “Our goal is to provide the public with accurate information so they can make informed decisions before they use recreational waterways. It is clear, based on the evidence we now have available, that there is no clear link between rainfall and water quality at Parlee Beach, so we are updating the protocol to reflect this evidence.”

The provincial government introduced a new water quality monitoring protocol at Parlee Beach in 2017 in accordance with the guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality. The water at Parlee Beach is tested at five locations each day during the beach season, with results posted online.

The protocol introduced in 2017 continued using rainfall as a predictor of water quality, a practice that had been in place since 2001. However, with two years of data, it has been determined that heavy rainfall is not an accurate predictor of high bacterial levels. Of the 28 precautionary rainfall advisories posted for the beach during 2017 and 2018, only four advisories had corresponding bacterial levels above guideline values.

Of the water samples collected at the beach last year, 98 per cent met recreational swimming guideline values. Any exceedance of guideline values was temporary, with water quality quickly returning to normal levels, said Russell.

“There are precautions that you can take every day, regardless of signage, to protect yourself from potential risks associated with recreational waters, including rivers, lakes and beaches,” said Russell. “While enjoying recreational waters, it is recommended that you do not swallow water whenever possible, not expose open cuts, wounds or sores to the water, use shower facilities to rinse off after being in the water, and, of course, wash your hands before eating.”

The automation of the website aims to make information available to the public more quickly while ensuring the effective use of government staff and resources.

Parlee Beach Provincial Park and the Shediac Bay Yacht Club received the Blue Flag designation last month from Environmental Defence, a national charitable organization committed to protecting the environment and human health. This is the third site in the province to receive the designation, including Aboiteau Beach in Cap- Pelé which earned the international eco-certification last year.

More information is available online.