E.Coli Hits Thunder Bay Waters
Ward Holland - The Chronicle-Journal
June 28, 2002
Sun bathers, swimmers and beach bums taking advantage
of the warm weather should know this: Chippewa Beach water
could be harmful to your health.
In what has become a familiar refrain every summer, the
Thunder Bay District Health Unit announced yesterday that
laboratory results showed “excessive levels” of E. coli
bacteria in the lake water at Chippewa.
“Bacteria tend to build up with warm temperatures and
heavy rainfall,” Abby Mackie, a health inspector with
the unit, said in a statement.
“The combination of warm temperatures and bird and animal
droppings washed into the lake by rainfall make beach
areas an ideal site for bacteria to grow.”
The health unit announced that signs were posted at Chippewa
Beach on Wednesday, warning people about the health hazards.
Health unit inspectors began sampling water from the beaches
at Boulevard Lake and Chippewa Park last week.
Test results determined that Boulevard is safe for swimming.
Dwight Gessie, City of Thunder Bay manager of community
services, said the warning from the health unit was not
“We do have some significant work to do in the area,”
He said that about one-third of the breakwall, about 100
metres, was removed in March to help improve circulation
of the water.
The city has no plans to remove the entire breakwall,
because it still prevents debris from the lake from washing
up on to shore, he said.
However, Gessie said, the city will consider cutting a
hole in the breakwall to improve circulation even more.
He said several things are planned by Friends of Chippewa
Park to improve the water: regrading the beach and adding
a retaining wall; adding aeration fountains; dredging
the bay area; and opening up another portion of breakwall.
The improvements to the beach are contingent on the city
and Friends of Chippewa Park getting grants from the provincial
and federal governments.
Gessie said “nothing significant” can be done in the short
term to improve the quality of the contaminated water
“There is no quick fix,” he said.
“The reality is the (contaminated) area that has been
identified is very, very shallow,” he said. “We know we
have quite a bit of work to do and we have funding applications
to deal with those matters.”
Iain Angus, secretary of Friends of Chippewa, said fecal
matter from birds, especially Canada geese, is believed
to be the source of contamination.
However, Gessie downplayed that, noting birds weren’t
a significant problem at the park this year.
Angus said the city’s sewage treatment plant north of
Chippewa was never considered a contamination source.