Today's date: Monday April 23, 2018
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Split Decision

by Olivia Rutt and Jaime Myslik

E. coli testing at GRCA beaches

Invest in better testing

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health will no longer be testing Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) parks for E. coli, which I believe opens up more possibilities of people getting sick.

The term E. coli can bring up a lot of scary memories for those that lived through the Walkerton E. coli outbreak where seven people died. E. coli is something people are very cautious about.

Now public health has decided that it is too much of a liability to keep testing at GRCA beaches, which get thousands of visitors in the summer season.

Public health said GRCA beaches do not qualify as public beaches, even though the GRCA is funded in part by tax dollars. But of course, Wellington County, landlocked as it is, does not have any public beaches to speak of except for those within conservation areas.

Public health has also stated the testing they have done in the past may have been inaccurate, due to the time it takes to test, analyze and advise the GRCA.

Rather than investing in better ways of testing, the health unit has decided to stop testing altogether.

Instead, both public health and the GRCA will be focusing on informing the public on what to look for to evaluate the water quality.

They are asking members of the public to turn into scientists in order to protect themselves. One thing to look for is: can you see your feet in waist-deep water?

I don’t think I’ve ever been able to see my feet in Belwood Lake.

– Olivia


Common sense rules

Public health has decided it will no longer be testing Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) beaches for E. coli.

While shocking at first, this move actually makes sense.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health representatives essentially said the tests they’ve been running for E. coli are ineffective.

Why? Because the results aren’t available for up to 24 to 48 hours after the sample has been drawn.

Those who have been around lakes before know how quickly water can go from clear as glass to a murky mess, particularly after a storm.

When that flock of seagulls flies by and the birds do their business over the lake, the water quality can change in the blink of an eye.

So why have we been putting blind faith in a test that is meaningless?

Those results that we diligently looked up and consulted before heading out to the local beach on a Saturday were most likely at least five days old.

What’s worse, they were likely moot all along, but knowing a test was completed gave us a false sense of security.

Now both public health and the GRCA are asking visitors to use a little common sense - but they’re not going to leave you in the dark, don’t worry.

There will be signs telling you what to look for and instructions about how to evaluate the water quality.

Don’t fret, just use your head.

– Jaime

Vol 50 Issue 22


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