On Wednesday, June 28, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit announced that three Thunder Bay beaches would have permanent swimming advisory notices. Boulevard Lake main beach and two Chippewa Park beaches will have the advisories installed this summer due to their histories of higher E.coli levels.
Previously, temporary signs would advise people not to swim if current water quality tests showed elevated levels of E.coli. If the levels receded, the signs would be removed. This process would be reviewed and repeated after weekly testing. However, health unit representatives worried that removing the signs gave beach-goers and swimmers a false sense of security. Water quality can change rapidly.
Speaking to The Chronicle Journal, Lee Sieswerda, the health unit’s manager of environmental health stated that:
“Water quality can change due to wind, waves, weather, and waterfowl over the course of a few hours. However, it takes one to two days to take the water samples, test them for E. coli, and then post the advisory signs, so that ‘snapshot’ is no longer an accurate indicator of current conditions. Therefore, we will no longer be advising people whether or not to swim based on short-term E. coli tests. Instead, we will provide people with a long-term summary of E. coli test results over the past five years. People can use that information to decide if they want to swim at that beach.”
When speaking with TB Newswatch, Sieswerda indicated that water fowl is the most likely suspect when it comes to elevated E.coli.
“When there’s high levels of E. coli it’s because of feces. It’s mostly birds,” Sieswerda said, adding it is different than swimmer’s itch.
“Anyone who has been to a beach around Thunder Bay knows when it is goose season. Things like a lot of waterfowl, if the beach isn’t cleaned up regularly or wind, water and waves that stir up the sediments on the bottom can also drive E. coli up into the water.”
The City of Thunder Bay routinely rakes beaches to remove the waterfowl fecal matter.
Using weekly test results from the past five summers, the health unit creates a percentage to show how often a certain beach experienced high levels of E. Coli. Boulevard Lake main beach currently shows that 30% of the time E.coli levels were high; Chippewa Park main beach showed 40% of the time; and Chippewa Park’s Sandy Beach showed 10% of the time.
The health unit will continue to take the weekly water samples for testing, at these three beaches and others listed on their website. However, they will not be posting them. Instead, they will collect the results, analyze them at the season’s end, and update the percentages for the 2018 season, as necessary.
Currently, beaches outside of Thunder Bay will continue with the temporary advisory sign strategy rather than switching to permanent advisories. Their signs will continue to be posted and taken down, as necessary, because these beaches rarely experience high levels of E.coli.
Ultimately, beach-goers can decide for themselves whether or not they want to swim. The advisories are meant to provide them with information they need to make an informed decision. Swimming in water that has elevated levels of E.coli can cause skin, eye, nose, and throat infections, as well as stomach illness.
Some things swimmers can do to reduce their risk of becoming ill are:
- avoid swallowing beach water
- towel off after a swim
- shower once they’ve gone home
TBDHU’s Beaches page, includes information on beach advisories, public pools & spas, E.coli, inspections & enforcement, injury prevention, sun safety & tanning.
Held every third Sunday in July, Lake Superior Day started in the early 1990s by a group of Lake Superior area residents who sought to celebrate the body of water that dominates and defines our region.
Other organizations and communities followed with festivities of their own and created Lake Superior Day(s), even events which span the entire weekend – which might be appropriate for such a large Lake. Here are a few of the events going on in your neighbourhood celebrating our Lake:
Terrace Bay Beach Festival
Location: Terrace Bay Beach, Terrace Bay, ON
Date: July 16
Time: 11 am – 6 pm
For more information: terracebay.ca/beachfestival
Description: We are throwing a LAKE SUPERIOR DAY Party with everything wind, water & waves!
Join in to meet paddlers, demo anything that floats and learn skills from the experts!
Dive into the world of kayaking and stand up paddleboarding with the experts!
We’ve got lots on deck and everyone’s welcome!
You can go for a test paddle, learn skills at a clinic, Boat Tours, Artisan Market & Food!
Also, Join us in welcoming the 2017 Métis Nation of Ontario Canoe Expedition members, dressed in the historic garb of the voyageurs, as they visit the Terrace Bay from Noon to 4 pm at the Terrace Bay Beach. The Métis Council and the Expedition crew will be hosting an event open to the entire community in order to highlight traditional Métis art, dance, music, and culture.
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Lake Superior Day Celebration
Location: Baraga, MI
Date: July 14
For more information: Shannon DesRochers, email@example.com
Description: Beach cleanup, Microplastics presentation
Bay Mills Indian Community St. Mary’s River & Lake Superior Day Celebration
Location: Brimley, MI
Date: July 14
For more information: Aubrey E. Maccoux, firstname.lastname@example.org
Festival of Arts & Gallery Tour
Location: City of Bayfield’s Memorial Park
Dates: July 15 & July 16
Time: Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
For more information: http://bayfield.org/bayfield-activities/festival-of-arts/
Description: In honour of Lake Superior Day, Bayfield Festival of Arts will highlight the artists who incorporate materials that are sourced directly from the Big Lake. Artists from will gather on Saturday, July 15 from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday, July 16 from 10 am to 4 pm. A juried arts & crafts show held in Memorial Park on the scenic shores of Lake Superior in downtown Bayfield. Visitors will find a unique selection of pottery, painting, jewelry, sculpture, glass works, wood carvings, photography and more.
Maslowski Beach Clean Up
Location: Maslowski Beach and City of Ashland.
Date: July 16
Time: 9 am – 12 pm (noon)
For more information: Sara Hudson at email@example.com or 715-682-7059
Description: Celebrate your love for the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior at our Second Annual Ashland Beach Cleanup! We will pick up trash and check for signs of pollution or erosion along Maslowski Beach in Ashland. Supplies are available, but you are welcome to bring your own gloves and trash pickers. Food and beverages are provided for those who volunteer. If you are interested, please meet at the Maslowski Beach Playground at 9 am. This event is co-hosted by the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership, and the Center for Rural Communities at Northland College, in partnership with the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach Program.
Washburn Lake Superior Day
Location: Thompson’s West End Park, Washburn, WI
Date: July 16
Time: 9 am – 3 am
For more information: Michele Wheeler, 715-685-2912 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Description: Come love the Lake at the City of Washburn’s Thompson’s West End Park! All are welcome to enjoy a variety of activities. Fun activities will be available from 9 am – 3 pm, including:
9 am – 10 am
- Gritty Fish Crossfit – Have you seen people working out on main street and wondered what they’re doing? Meet at 9 a.m. by the playground to learn more about crossfit and try it out. All experience and fitness levels can participate.
10 am – 12 pm
- Words for Water portraits. If you could speak for the water, what would you say?
- What’s in the water? Water quality monitoring demonstration with the Bad River Watershed Association.
- Get out on the water with FREE sailboat cruises hosted by Northcoast sailing.
- Get out on the water with FREE standup paddle board and kayak demos. Or rent a kayak/SUP for a longer time period.
- Corn hole competition. AND!! There will be a prize for the fastest time to get to 21 points.
11 am – 1 pm
- Messiah Lutheran Church will provide brats and baked goods for sale so that you can picnic at the beach.
1 pm – 3 pm
- What’s in the water? USGS will present data collected at the newly installed Ashland Lighthouse monitoring station, including info about last year’s big rain event.
- More Northcoast sailing trips!
Corn hole, horseshoes and beach volleyball will be available all day. Or, invite your friends and just go play/swim at the beach.
Port Wing Business Alliance Lake Superior Day
Location: Port Wing Town Hall and Pavilion
Date: July 15
Time: 8 am – dusk
For More information: http://portwingwi.com/events/port-wing/port-wing-events/lake-superior-day/
- 8 am Bird watching and photography hike with Rick Burkman and Wayne Rundell. Meet at the main door of the Town Hall for orientation and directions.
- 9 am Display’s open at the Town Hall
- 9 am – 12 pm Coast Guard boat at Town Hall
- 9 am – 1 pm Farmers’ market with veggies and crafts.
- 10 am Rick Burkman, speaker– Washburn -Beneath the Feathers: A Peek Into the Seedier Side of our Avian Friends. ”
Rick Burkman never lost his childhood fascination with the hidden lives of birds. Writing natural history articles for national and regional magazines, newspapers, and even a couple of books have given him many opportunities to fuel his passion. Here he explores the secret, and sometimes sinister, side of a few of our well-known birds, including surprises from our own back yards.
- 10:45 am Tracy Hames, Executive Director, Wisconsin Wetlands Association
Learn what a wetland is, how and why they form, and where you can find them. Learn about the many different kinds of wetlands found in Wisconsin. Learn about the benefits wetlands provide to Wisconsin’s waters, wildlife, and people.
- 12 pm – 2 pm Fish Boil, sponsored by the Port Wing Area Business Association @ Town Hall
- 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Tracy Hames leading a wetland hike/driving tour of 4 to 5 different wetlands along Beach Road and Quarry Road and Twin Falls Park, meet at Town Hall
- 7 pm – dusk Bonfire & Stargazing at Marina
Bad River’s Lake Superior Day Celebration
Location: Waverly Beach, Odanah, WI
Date: July 14
Time: 11 am – 3 pm
For more information: Bad River Natural Resource Department, 715-682-7123
Description: Informational and educational booths, lunch
Barkers Island Lake Superior Day
Location: 15 Marina Drive, Superior WI 54880
Date: July 16
Time: 11 am – 4 pm
For more information: Deanna Erickson, email@example.com
Description: Live music, art, and fun for all ages! +This year’s event is coordinated by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, a federal reserve encompassing over 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River freshwater estuary.