Water quality testing by Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development has shown that levels of escherichia coli (E. coli) were within recreational water quality objectives at all beaches monitored this week.

Visitors are advised to avoid swallowing lake water, wash hands before handling food and avoid swimming with an open cut or wound, or while experiencing illness. Visitors to Lake Winnipeg should minimize water contact if lake levels are high and strong winds are blowing from the north. Research shows E. coli counts tend to be elevated during these conditions as they are washed out of the wet beach sand and into the swimming area.

This week, algal blooms were sampled at Pelican Lake (Ninette and Pleasant Valley), Oak Lake, Metigoshe, Sandy Lake, Silver Beach Lake and Rivers Reservoir beach. The number of blue-green algae cells was above Manitoba’s recreational water quality objective at all beaches, while the concentration of algal toxin microcystin was below the recreational water quality objective at all beaches. First level algae advisory signs were posted at all above mentioned beaches this week.

Algal blooms are difficult to predict and may form and then disperse quickly or last for several days or weeks. Warm and calm weather coupled with relatively high nutrient loads provide ideal conditions for blue-green algae to develop. People are reminded to avoid swimming in water where severe algal blooms are visible and to prevent pets from drinking water along the shoreline where algal blooms are present. Home and cottage owners who use lake water as a source for drinking water should be aware that most small treatment systems are unable to remove algal toxins. Therefore, where blue-green algal blooms are present, avoid drinking the water or using it for other domestic purposes.

Information on beach water quality results, advisory signs posted at beaches and swimmer and water safety is available at gov.mb.ca.