Queensland beach closed to swimming due to high bacteria levels

Queensland Beach Provincial Park in Hubbards is closed to swimmers for at least a few days due to high bacteria levels.

'I do not recall ever a closure at Queensland due to poor water quality,' lifeguard service director says

The beach will be closed for at least a few days while testing continues. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

Queensland Beach Provincial Park in Hubbards is closed to swimmers due to high bacteria levels.

On Friday, Parks Nova Scotia put out an advisory saying that the popular beach, located about 45 kilometres outside of Halifax, will remain closed to swimmers "until water testing results show that the water is safe for swimming." 

The Nova Scotia Department of Environment said in an email that increased levels of enterococci, a bacteria found in mammal fecal matter, were found.

While it's normal to find traces of the bacteria in surface water, the department didn't know what caused the increase, or whether it's related to nearby construction on Conrads Road. 

Paul D'Eon, director with Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service, said the beach closed Friday afternoon and people were advised to get out of the water.

There are still lifeguards on duty during the swimming ban, he said.

More tests are scheduled for Sunday and it is hoped the results are available by Tuesday, he said. If the bacteria count has fallen, the beach will then reopen for swimming.

Water testing at provincial beaches takes place at least two to three times each summer or more if there are poor results, D'Eon said. 

When the water at Queensland was tested this week, the results did not meet Canadian Recreational Water Quality guidelines, something the lifeguard service director can not recall happening before.

"This is my 44th year and I do not recall ever a closure at Queensland due to poor water quality," D'Eon said.

If ingested, enterococci can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, D'Eon said. He said this is of particular risk to young children who tend to swallow more water at the beach than do adults.

The storm surge ripped up a section of road near Queensland Beach near Hubbards, N.S. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

Queensland has already been closed twice this season due to construction on Conrads Road that leads to the beach. One closure was for three days and the other for one day.

That section of road was ripped up during a strong storm surge in January.

The Department of Lands and Forestry announced in a July 6 tweet that construction work at Queensland was completed and the road is now reopened.

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Danielle d'Entremont

Reporter/Editor

Danielle d’Entremont is a reporter based in Halifax. She previously worked for CBC Toronto and is happy as a clam to be back in her hometown. She’s always fishing for interesting stories. Send your story to her at danielle.dentremont@cbc.ca.