Hazardous E. coli bacteria levels force closure of Kits Beach once again

Nearly two weeks after it was reopened for swimming, Vancouver’s Kits Beach has been closed to swimmers once again.

The closure is driven by high levels of E. coli in the water, with a Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) water sample finding 1,723 E. coli per 100 millilitres of water.

Under Canadian recreational water quality guidelines, beach closures are possible when officials find a single sample that exceeds 400 E. coli per 100 millimetres of water.

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E. coli is the same bacteria that can be found on vegetables or in beef. It is of particular concern for vulnerable populations, such as kids and seniors.

A major contributor to E. coli in the water comes from fecal matter, both human and animal.

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The beach had reopened on Aug. 1 after a nearly week-long closure due to E. coli limits nearly three times the safe limit.

Earlier this summer, high E. coli levels forced the closure of Sunset Beach and Trout Lake. Snug Cove on Bowen Island has been closed since June 27 for the same reason.

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Last year, the region had to close six beaches simultaneously due to hazardous levels of bacteria.

Vancouver Coastal Health hasn’t explained the most recent high E. coli readings, but members of the park board and city council have blamed the city’s sewage system.

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Most of the city still relies on a combined system, which includes several outflows that empty out into the waters of English Bay and other coastal waters.

Both the park board and city council have passed motions calling for staff to work out a way to implement a fully separated system within a decade.

—With files from Sean Boynton

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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