Health warning prompted by river bacteria

High levels of bacteria have forced people to stay out of the Lower Cowichan River.

In an advisory posted online Satuday, Aug. 16, Island Health said it was "advising against the use of the lower sections of the Cowichan River for recreational uses such as swimming, wading or tubing. 

"Testing of bacterial levels in the river following rainfall earlier this week has shown higher levels of bacteria than are normally found in the area and that exceed the Canadian Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality," the notice said.

According to Island Health, "repeat sampling will be undertaken this weekend, results of which are not expected back before early next week."

The river is tested in several locations on a regular basis and recently has been tested more frequently as part of the Cowichan River Watershed Board work. 

"While the testing has occurred downstream from the Highway 1 bridge, Island Health is advising that no recreation activity occur downstream from the Allenby Road Bridge. Persons swimming in water with high levels of bacteria are more likely to develop symptoms such as abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea," the notice said.

Cowichan Tribes is working closely with Island Health in notifying community members.

The annual Lower Cowichan River Cleanup was scheduled for Sunday and went ahead as usual, with some changes, according to Rodger Hunter, one of the organizers.

"Oh boy, can you believe it would be today? But it happens. People who are planning to go above Allenby Bridge are fine," he said, after marshalling a big group of early bird volunteers who were eager to get on with the cleanup, whatever chance they were given. "This problem is likely related to storm sewers and some runoff from the land. But up past Allenby they are good. They’ll be going in the water doing normal things, having fun with that," Hunter said.

"But down here, it will be a cleanup from the shore. So things that are in the river won’t be coming out of the river but we’ll still get quite a bit of stuff. It’s a good community-building, relationship-building event."

And the one good side of the drought is that "there’s a lot more shoreline," he said.

The cleanup at Lake Cowichan on Saturday also drew lots of volunteers, some diving, some walking in the river, some ferrying garbage to the shore in a variety of boats.

However, that cleanup effort didn’t produce nearly as much garbage as in previous years, according to Hunter.

"Yes, I think you can really see it now. That respect for the river is growing and growing. People are taking the time and they are thinking. It’s all good," he said.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Minister and Halalt First Nation chief consult on effects of recent flooding

Community heavily impacted with many damaged and uninhabitable homes

Drivesmart column: Regulatory vs advisory road signs

The regulatory sign must be obeyed exactly as it is read.

Alistair MacGregor column: Responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic

This crisis has shown us just how many Canadians struggle every day to pay the bills

Second vehicle from Crofton Geo-Tech theft recovered

Supervisor at Crofton operation finds it parked at Chemainus campground

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

Most Read