Beaches - Water Quality Monitoring

In general, District of West Kelowna beaches are safe for swimming; however, from time to time bacterial counts in the lake can increase due to environmental factors. For example, in the spring or during heavy rainfalls, runoff in streams and creeks will wash debris into our lakes, leading to a potential increase in bacterial counts; and, when waterfowl (e.g. geese) migrate to and/or habituate in an area of the lake bacterial counts can potentially increase. Therefore, the District of West Kelowna provides water quality monitoring at high use beaches as a public service.
Summer at Willow Beach - CWK Image - Contributed
If water containing high levels of bacteria is ingested, it can result in gastrointestinal illnesses, particularly in young children and seniors.

Testing is conducted at:
  • Gellatly Bay (including Willow Beach)
  • Marina Park
  • Marjorie Pritchard Memorial Park
How Beach Advisories Are Issued
DWK staff collect five water quality samples from each of the aforementioned DWK beaches spread over a one month period (for a total of 20 per month) and submit the samples to the IHA lab.

If any of the samples should exceed 200 E. coli / 100 mL, a five day re-testing process would commence. If the average of the re-tests should remain higher than the 200 E. coli / 100 mL threshold a beach advisory notice would be posted at the beach and on the District of West Kelowna home page.

Background
Until the end of the 2011 swimming season, the Interior Health Authority (IHA) collected and tested water quality samples at beaches in the Central and South Okanagan and informed the public about beach advisories when required.

Starting in the 2012 swimming season, IHA asked local governments within the Central and South Okanagan to collect beach water quality samples and deliver them to IHA's appointed testing facilities.

If the test results warranted a beach advisory notification, IHA would request that the beach advisory notification be posted by the local governments.