2 Halifax-area beaches reopen, 4 remain closed to swimmers

By Marieke Walsh Global News
Posted July 5, 2013 9:30 am

2 Halifax-area beaches reopen, 4 remain closed to swimmers

HALIFAX – Four beaches and swimming areas in Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) remain closed due to high levels of bacteria.

The municipality reopened two beaches for swimming on Friday — Dingle and Black Rock — after tests showed bacteria levels did not exceed Health Canada guidelines.

See the full list of closures below

Cameron Deacoff, with the HRM’s Energy and Environment office, said officials specifically test for E. coli levels, but there are other bacteria in the water including salmonella and Shigella.

Swimmers who are exposed to E-coli can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, he said.

Conditions related to other bacteria found in the water include ear infections and skin rashes.

Urinary tract infections, and respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia are less common but still a possibility, Deacoff added.


The heightened bacteria levels are caused by the sewage overflows from heavy rain water in the past weeks.

The municipality will advise residents when the remaining beaches and lakes will be reopened to swimmers.

In the meantime, HRM has a list, on its website, of outdoor pool citizens can use to cool off in during the hot weather.

Environment Canada issued a special statement on Friday, advising Nova Scotians humidex levels would remain high.

Read More: Halifax police warn about leaving kids, pets in cars on hot days

The temperature in Halifax is expected to hit a high of 31 C, but it could feel as hot as 37 C with the humidity. Other areas of Nova Scotia could be hit with a humidex level that tops 40 C, particularly inland areas of the mainland.

The full list of beaches and lakes closed includes:

Albro Lake in Dartmouth

Sandy Lake in Bedford

Long Pond in Herring Cove

Kinsmen Beach on First Lake, in Sackville


HRM warns of blue-green algae risk at Sandy Lake in Bedford
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Update, Aug. 8, 2019: The municipality has lifted its algae advisory and has reopened Sandy Lake Beach to swimming. “Following initial water testing, the municipality has confirmed there are no toxin-producing strains of cyanobacteria present in the water,” the city said in a news release Thursday.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is recommending people not swim in Sandy Lake or allow pets to go in the lake until further notice because of a possible blue-green algae bloom.

The Bedford lake is a supervised beach, but is now closed to swimming.

According to a news release sent out by the municipality, some types of blue-green algae can produce toxins during blooms and when the blooms begin to decay, toxins could be released into the water that could be harmful to people and pets.

People who come into contact with blue-green algae or swallow the water may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Children and immune-compromised people are at a higher risk, the municipality noted.

What you should know about toxic blue-green algae blooms
It advises anyone with symptoms to seek medical help.

Bacteria is harmful to humans, lethal to pets
Blue-green algae bloom has been linked to dog deaths in New Brunswick.

Lake users are encouraged to take the following precautions:

Avoid water contact. If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible.
Do not swim or wade (or allow pets to swim or wade) in any areas where blue-green algae is visible or in areas where a risk advisory has been issued.
Avoid consuming water or fish from Sandy Lake.

From 2011 synpotic

This, the fourth in a series of lake water quality surveys over a period of 31 years, is only
one of many contributions to the scientific knowledge that is necessary to understand the
mechanisms that affect that affect the water quality of Halifax-area lakes. Fortunately,
other more detailed studies addressing important issues have been recently conducted
(e.g. Stantec 2012, Ginn et al. 2015, Tarr and White 2015, Anderson et al. 2017 and
Dunnington et al. 2018). These investigations are being carried out by a variety of
organizations including government agencies, consultants, universities, students and
numerous citizen environmental groups that have been formed. Some additional
examples are as follows.
For many years, municipalities have monitored the concentrations of coliform bacteria in
the water at recreational beaches. Beaches are temporarily closed when observed levels
exceed guidelines for safe recreational use, usually as a result of over use, and remain so
until concentrations return to acceptable levels. The frequency of closures has increased
in some lakes in recent years, in particular at Birch Cove Beach on Lake Banook in
Dartmouth. This monitoring is ongoing. The HRM Water Quality Monitoring Program
also included bacterial sampling (Stantec 2012).
Recent years have also seen an increase in the abundance of aquatic weeds and the
occurrence of blue-green algae in some Halifax-area lakes. Both of these plant forms
occur naturally but their growth can be stimulated by nutrient enrichment. These
increases have been particularly pronounced in Lakes Banook and Micmac in Dartmouth
and have had a major impact on recreational use and competitive paddling. High
concentrations of blue-green algae have resulted in some closures of recreational beaches.
Halifax funded a program to monitor and harvest aquatic weeds in these lakes during the
summer months from 2015-2018. It also funded a pollution control study of Lakes
Banook and Micmac with a focus on understanding bacterial loading in order to reduce
the frequency of beach closures in the future.
Another emerging issue has been the development of anoxic conditions in the deep water
of some lakes, particularly during the summer months when lakes are stratified. While
these can occur naturally, their increasing frequency and magnitude is cause for concern.
Oxygen profile measurements by citizen environmental groups have clearly demonstrated
the occurrence of periodic anoxic events in Oathill and Penhorn lakes in the summer
. In order to mitigate these events, under the lead of these groups, a solar-powered
aerator was installed in Oathill Lake in 2015 and a second one is scheduled to be installed
in Penhorn Lake in 2019.
As result of expanding development west of Bedford, Halifax has recently commissioned
watershed studies of Sandy and Papermill Lakes (AECOM 2014 and Centre for Water
Resource Studies 2016) in order to assist watershed management and future land use
development in the area. These reports provide considerable water quality data and
analysis. Another recent study of interest is a detailed examination of the phosphorus
loading and trophic state of Fletcher Lake by a Dalhousie graduate student (Poltarowicz
2017). Extensive field measurements were used to quantify the various sources and sinks
of phosphorus in the watershed. Export coefficients were calculated for different
categories of land use and it was concluded that the lake could continue to be categorized
as oligotrophic.

Water Warning Issued for Sandy Lake
Public Service Announcement© 2021 Halifax Regional Municipality.

Water Warning Issued for Sandy Lake

(Wednesday, August 16/2000)-– Homeowners and cottagers on Sandy Lake, near Bedford, are advised not to drink water from the lake, or to swim in the lake, until further notice.

Testing has indicated that the fecal coliform count in the lake water is high due to a break in the sewer main along the Hammonds Plains Road, near the intersection of Giles Drive, over the weekend.

Municipal sewer crews responded to a call of a sewer break at that location at approximately 6:30 p.m. last Saturday evening. They were able to quickly divert the flow from the break to another force main while repairs were made. However, it is unknown how long the flow due to the break had been emptying into Sandy Lake.

There are approximately 20 property owners on Sandy Lake and there is a mix of year-round residences and cottages. Some draw water from the lake.

Councillor Peter Kelly (District 21-Bedford) said the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment confirmed that coliform counts in Sandy Lake are high and has advised that no one should drink water from Sandy Lake or swim in the lake until further notice.

Signage is expected to be erected at various points around the lake and homeowners will be advised of water conditions until they improve and the ban is lifted.

– 30 –

John O’Brien
Corporate Communications Officer
(902) 490-6531

Councillor Peter Kelly
(902) 490-4450 or (902) 835-6097