The Canada Day weekend is proving to be a hot one and many Albertans are taking to the beach. Where will you stake out your stretch of sand?
If you’re weighing the options, take a look at the Swim Guide map to see beaches in your area and to see the latest water quality information. Before you pack and go, you’ll want to know whether to expect restrooms, showers, lifeguards, potable water, a concession, or perhaps a more secluded getaway that you can enjoy with a small handful of fellow beach combers.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to be sure the water is safe for swimming. Throughout the summer, use the Swim Guide smartphone app to check water quality updates and to be sure that your beach has not been posted with an advisory.
As of July 1st, Alberta Health Services has posted blue-green algae advisories for Lake Isle, but swimmers should still be sure to look for the telltale green scum before entering the water at other lakes in the province. If you think you see a bloom, you can report to Alberta Health Services at the closest environmental public health office.
Blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) are a pre-historic bacteria that live in waters of all kinds almost everywhere on the planet, and when they exist in high enough concentrations, the cells themselves as well as the toxins they produce (like microcystin) can pose a threat to human health and lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, or headaches. Read more about blue-green algae.
Advisories are also posted when test results indicate contamination from human sewer and waste. Most Albertans are also familiar with swimmer’s itch and while there are no advisories for this nuisance, you can view and submit recent reports here.
North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper wishes you a safe and enjoyable weekend of swimming and summer beach fun! On our part, we will be enjoying the sun from Devonshire beach on Lesser Slave Lake – one of the longest stretches of sand in the province. See you on the water!