The Northwestern Health Unit has installed new permanent metal signs at municipal beaches across the region.
The signs advise the public of the potential for elevated levels of bacteria in the water for up to 48 hours after heavy rain and/or strong winds.
The health unit continues to test the water at beaches for bacteria on a weekly basis during the summer months.
But the time needed to test and read the results means there could be exposure to bathers using the beach in the meantime.
Beach users should take the information on the sign into consideration when making a decision to swim that day, and especially if allowing very small children, who might inadvertently swallow water, to play in it.
The permanent signs also should help reduce the number of beach closures because public health inspectors can include them in their risk assessments when considering lab results.
However, there still could be circumstances when beach closures will be necessary, including test results showing extremely high levels of E. coli, or overflow sewage contamination or physical hazards in the water.
If these extraordinary circumstances arise and a beach must be closed, a red “Beach Closed” sign is affixed to the permanent post on the beach and bathers are advised not to swim there.