British Columbia

No swimming at Trout Lake, Barnet Marine Park due to E. coli

Two popular swimming spots in Metro Vancouver have been shut down until further notice due to high bacterial levels in the water.

It's unknown when the two popular spots will re-open for swimming

Vancouver's Trout Lake is closed due to high levels of E. coli in the water. (CBC)

Two popular swimming spots in Metro Vancouver have been shut down until further notice due to high E. coli levels in the water.

Vancouver Coastal Health closed Trout Lake on Thursday to swimming and wading.

The presence of E. coli bacteria usually indicates human or animal fecal contamination. Health Canada says water that's safe to swim in shouldn't exceed 200 E. coli per 100 millilitres of water. 

Samples collected from the lake Thursday showed 259 E.Coli per 100 mililitres, according to VCH. That's a jump from July 5, when the level was 141.

E. coli is a type of bacteria that normally lives in people's intestines. Certain harmful strains, however, can cause gastrointestinal illness, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

The beach area at the East Vancouver hotspot remains open, but signs on-site warn swimmers not to go in the water. 

Tiffany Akins, a Vancouver Coastal Health spokesperson, says it's unknown when the water will be safe again.

"There's no way to tell," she said. "Historically, we have seen higher [E. coli] levels in Trout Lake toward the end of summer." 

Cause can be 'very complex'

Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby is also closed for swimming. 

Timothy Millard, a health protection manager with Fraser Health, said samples last week clocked in at 813 E. coli per 100 millilitres. A follow-up sample only fell to 775, prompting a shutdown of the beach late last week.

Millard said staff couldn't identify a direct cause. 

"It's very complex because it's a natural system," he said. 

Metro Vancouver staff will re-sample the water Monday and results will come in Tuesday, Millard said. 

Millard said activities like boating and lounging on the sand are still OK, as long as people wash their hands before eating or drinking and avoid touching their mouths.