VERNON - Officials in the North Okanagan are testing the water at local beaches to see if it is safe to swim in.
Keith Pinkoski, parks manager for the North Okanagan Regional District, says sampling was done today, June 2, at Greater Vernon’s sub-regional parks. Those include Paddlewheel Park, Kin Beach Park, and Camp Hurlburt on Okanagan Lake, and Kal Beach Park on Kalamalka Lake.
The water samples are being sent to the lab for testing.
“We will likely know early next week and then proceed with any advisories or closures,” Pinkoski says.
The Okanagan Indian Band, meanwhile, has posted signs at its portion of Kin Beach between Vernon Creek and Tronson Road that read: ‘Danger - Contaminated Water.’
The sign includes a notice from the First Nations Health Authority warning people not to use surface water from the lake for drinking, cooking or dental hygiene.
“Do not use any untreated water that is going to touch your mouth or be swallowed,” the notice states.
The notice does not to contain any specific information about the safety of swimming at Kin Beach, and we were unable to reach a spokesperson for clarification. An earlier bulletin from the First Nations Health Authority advised people not to swim in water that looks murky, smells unpleasant or has unusual discolouration.
“Chiefs and Councils may wish to post advisories on beaches where they believe it is unsafe to swim or there has been contamination from sewage systems and storm drainage,” the health authority states.
For its part, the Interior Health Authority is encouraging people not to swim in areas where septic systems may have been compromised or if there is other visible surface contamination.
“Some beaches have limited or no access. There may also be increased bacterial levels in the lake water. Large debris in recreational waters can present physical hazards to beach users and increase the risk of entrapment and drowning in rivers or lakes. Swimmers should make efforts not to ingest lake water and swim with caution when near debris. Children should be closely supervised,” Interior Health says.
Read Interior Health’s full release on recreational water use here.
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