Niagara beaches improving with time

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Machines cleaning the beach for Canada Day events in Port Dalhousie.
STEPHEN DYELL

Machines cleaning the beach for Canada Day events in Port Dalhousie.

Machines cleaning the beach for Canada Day events in Port Dalhousie.
Posted by Stephen Dyell on June 28, 2013.

BY STEPHEN DYELL

Researchers at Brock University have discovered that beach closings over the past two years have begun to decline in the Niagara region.

Douglas Hagar research discovered findings on the quality and problems arising with the beaches, also the possible solutions to keep the number of days beaches stay open.

“Keeping beaches safe is important because there are a variety of risks that could be associated with swimming,” Hagar said.

Hagar says the big concerns are escherichia coli and the build up of algae. The problems are often a mixture of human and natural causes but have a big impact on the water and humans.

“Most algae are relatively harmless but Blue-Green algae which we see a lot in Lake Erie, poses a risk to human and animal life because it’s toxic.”

The Region currently monitors the 26 beaches regularly and updates concerns and problems at each. They have also launched a pilot program on three of the beaches with weather stations and beach buoys to produce a real-time prediction of escherichia coli outbreaks.

Research has also found that the beaches which are not in the open or have much traffic through them often faced more days posted of unavailability to the public.

“Jones Beach is a little bit more secluded and doesn’t get as much turnover due to wind or waves so the bacteria build up in these areas,” Hagar states.

The build up is also caused by human error. Reduction of phosphates in soaps and detergents would help reduce the algal growth. Results of the reduction have already had an impact on Lake Erie but the problem still arises from over fertilization. Often putting too much on their front lawns, the extra content ends up in sewers and back into the lakes.

Hagar believes a better solution of continued separation of storm water and household sewage system will help the lakes. Heavy rainfall creates an overload into the water system which carries the chemicals to the sewers. All simple solutions to reducing the dangers of polluting the beaches, Hagar says.

While the beaches in Niagara often are talked about in a negative way, the improvements through research and consistent monitoring have begun the turnaround. It also starts with the residents who use those beaches. Making the little eco-friendly change provides and opportunity for not only the generation of today, but for future generations to enjoy the hidden gems of Niagara’s beaches.  

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