Regular weekly testing confirms public beaches within the Regional District of North Okanagan are safe to use. (Morning Star file photo)

RDNO public beaches safe for use

Regular weekly testing for ecoli shows water in tolerable range

If there were any issues regarding swimming at public beaches on Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes, the Regional District of North Okanagan would advise the public immediately.

Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson Juliette Cunningham asked RDNO staff if regular testing was being done in light of the flooding and high lake levels this year.

Parks manager Keith Pinkoski said water has been tested once a week at all public beaches between the May and Canada Day long weekends.

“Coldstream tests at three locations at Kal Beach: at Alexander’s and the north and south sides of the pier,” said Pinkoski. “Paddlewheel Park is done by City of Vernon staff and they test the middle of the park beach. The city provides some of the testing at Kin Beach, the south, middle and north sides.”

Part of where some confusion lies, said Cunningham, is that the Okanagan Indian Band has suggested its beach – which is right beside Kin Beach on Okanagan Lake – is not safe for swimming. There has also been the issue of sewage seeping into the lake from band lands on the north arm, which may be adding to the public’s confusion.

Pinkoski did not offer comment as he said he’s not sure what testing the band has done or is doing.

Asked if everything is good at public beaches, Pinkoski said yes.

“Our testing falls within the guidelines for community and recreation water quality for e-coli levels,” he said. “All of the tests have been in the tolerable range.”

If there were higher than normal levels of e-coli on any of the tests, the regional district would be notified by Interior Health.

“Then we’d discuss with operations staff whether we’d look at doing any beach closures,” said Pinkoski. “If we see elevated levels, we go back and re-test to make sure the test was accurate.

“If that’s the case, you’d be looking at a potential closure.”