BUI x Beach Closings and Water Contact Sports
What was the original problem?
Swimming was prohibited by a by-law of the Hamilton Harbour Commissioners due to health concerns about E. coli from raw sewage in the water.
Listing Guideline: When waters, which are commonly used for total-body contact or partial-body contact recreation, exceed standards, objectives, or guidelines for such use.
Delisting Guideline: When waters, which are commonly used for total-body contact or partial body-contact recreation, do not exceed standards, objectives, or guidelines for such use.
What Has Been Done?
- Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) were built in West Hamilton to prevent raw sewage from entering Hamilton Harbour
- The by-law was lifted in 1995 so Bayfront Park Beach and Pier 4 Park Beach could be opened for public swimming
- Pier 4 Beach pilot program (buoys, fencing, beach grooming, shrubbery, bird scaring) has been in effect since 2005. Some of these management techniques were used at Bayfront Park Beach beginning in 2010
How Are Things Today?
- Environment Canada has shown Hamilton Harbour beach E. coli readings are primarily due to bird droppings not human fecal matter. This is a shift from the presumption sewage was continuing to be the culprit
- This figure provided by the City of Hamilton shows an increase in safe beach days at Pier 4 Park Beach after pilot program began, whereas Bayfront Park Beach continued to struggle. Lake Ontario beaches have been safe for swimming in 12 of the past 13 years. Read Hamilton Public Health Services' 2015 Beach Monitoring Report here.
What Still Needs To Happen?
- The City of Hamilton should implement bird management and surface water run-off management changes and practices at Bayfront Park Beach. Vegetation and landscape changes should be main focus of these efforts.
- It is recommended that the City of Hamilton consider improving the exchange of Bayfront Park Beach swimming area waters with the water of the main body of Hamilton Harbour in order to improve water quality at the shoreline. See current beach water quality test results for updated information on swimmability
- The bird management practices at Pier 4 Park Beach need to continue. Surface water run-off from nearby paved surfaces should be diverted away from Pier 4 Beach
When Will The Status Change?
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Photo Credit: Dave Heidebrecht