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Region taking cautionary approach to blue-green algae

The Durham Region health department has started its beach monitoring program for the 2019 season.

Beachgoers will notice a new sign posted at area beaches that provides information on blue-green algae.

The new sign called “What is Blue-Green Algae?” will be posted at all public beaches in Durham throughout the swimming season.

The sign will give the public general information about blue-green algae and precautionary measures that can be used when visiting area beaches.

In addition, if a blue-green algae bloom is identified by the health department through a visual confirmation and/or a confirmation through water quality testing conducted by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), a “Water Quality Advisory” sign for blue-green algae will be posted at the affected beach, replacing the general information sign.

If a water quality advisory is issued for blue-green algae at a specific beach location, this signage will remain in place for the remainder of the beach season, as water conditions can change rapidly and at any time.

While testing for blue-green algae is not routinely conducted, the public is encouraged to contact the health department if they suspect blue-green algae may be present at any local public beach and health department staff will investigate further.

“Throughout the summer months, the health department collects bacteriological water samples from area beaches. These samples are sent to the Public Health Ontario laboratory to be tested for elevated bacteria levels to determine if these beaches are safe for swimming,” explained Lisa Fortuna, Durham’s director of health protection. “However, no routine testing occurs to determine the presence of blue-green algae. This signage is being introduced to help the public understand how to spot potential blue-green algae and precautions that should be taken if the water is affected.”

If you spot blue-green algae at any Durham Region beach, call the health department’s environmental help line at 1-888-777-9613 or the MECP’s Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOETIPS (6638477); TTY: 1-855-889-5775.

Additional information is also available at