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Bacteria levels improving at many Greater Victoria beaches

Advisories still in place at two beaches, with Willows and Hamsterly Beach advisories rescinded midday Friday (June 21)
A water quality advisory is still in place at Willows Beach levels of bacteria were found to be over the recommended limit. Levels have since come down, though the advisory remains in place.

UPDATE: In late May and early June, water quality samples were taken from several Victoria-area beaches showing higher-than-normal levels of bacteria.

Since last week, levels are returning to normal or near-normal, and advisories for Willows Beach in Oak Bay and Hamsterly West beach at Elk Lake have now been rescinded, according to local authorities.

Advisories are still in place at Esquimalt Gorge Park and Ross Bay at Dallas Road as of midday Friday.

The worst samples had been taken at Gorge Park, at one point showing roughly 33 times the recommended safe level of enterococci bacteria.

The single sample limit is 70 enterococci per 100 millilitres of water, a bacteria that when found is an indication of fecal contamination. There were 2,300 enterococci found at Gorge Park on May 22, 900 on June 3, 50 on June 10 and less than five on June 17.

Poor results were also found on June 4 at two locations on Willows Beach in Oak Bay, but not nearly as bad as in Esquimalt. But each location still was over the limit, with one place showing 85 enterococci, and the other 86. Both spots were showing samples of less than five by June 17.

Ross Bay on Dallas Road had similar results on June 4 with 105 enterococci. This was down to 27 on June 17. 

Testing at the Hamsterly West beach area on Elk lake had shown 700 e. coli bacteria on June 3, also a sign of fecal contamination, but that had also come down to less than five by June 18.

Testing is conducted by Island Health from mid-May through September.

About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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