Maiden Lake Public Beach safe to swim

The concern of several residents sparked an investigation into the health levels of Maiden Lake Public Beach in Fernie.

Interior Health last tested these waters on July 18, 2017, and levels returned at 5 (less than five) colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters.

Interior Health starts to get concerned when levels reach over 200 CFU per 100ml.

The lab where the water is tested cannot detect E-coli levels less than five CFU, this is why the most recent result is 5 CFU.

“This is the lowest result you can get,” said Jennifer Jacobsen, team leader for environmental health, Interior Health.

“This is well within acceptable levels.”

E-coli is a bacteria found in the guts of all living mammals. Some types are pathogenic, and some are not. Some will cause illness to humans, and some will not. Biologists use E-coli as a health indicator.

A rise in E-coli levels can be caused by a number of things. Some of the most significant would be a failing septic system or a large influx in geese traffic to the body of water.

Also, active waters caused by rainfall or high winds can cause a rise in E-coli, by washing pollutants such as dog feces into the body of water.

Beaches are a natural environment, therefore a certain amount of bacteria will always be found in the water. Any undisinfected surface source has a risk of contamination.

Interior Health advises beach-goers, especially young children to try and avoid swallowing water by keeping their mouths closed.