Three Windsor area beaches closed

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit conducts beach water quality monitoring at nine public beaches at least once a week from June to September. (Photo courtesy of WEC Health Unit)

Three beaches across Windsor-Essex are closed this week.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said swimming is not allowed at Mettawas Beach in Kingsville and Colchester Beach in Essex because they have high levels of E. coli bacteria.

Holiday Beach in Amherstburg remains closed because it’s unsafe due to erosion from high water levels on Lake Erie.

Swimming is also not recommended at Cedar Island Beach because bacteria levels are above provincial standards. Mettawas Beach has had high levels of bacteria for three weeks.

Warnings are posted when the water samples have E. coli levels that are greater than 200 per 100 millilitres of water and are shut down when the E. coli count is 1,000 per 100 millilitres of water or higher. Mettawas Beach has an E. coli reading of 1,000, Colchester Beach also has a count of 1,000, and Cedar Island Beach has an E. coli count of 324.

People can get sick from water with high levels of E. coli. The most common illnesses are stomach and intestinal illnesses such as vomiting and diarrhea, along with lung, eye, ear, nose, or throat infections or skin issues. Swallowing contaminated water is the main way people may get sick.

Health officials have started conducting beach water quality monitoring at all nine public beaches at least once a week. The testing runs from June to September to make sure the E. coli counts in the water are below provincial standards. Beach sampling will take place every Monday and if the beach is closed due to high E. coli levels, it will be resampled on Thursday of the same week. Beach water quality results are released every Wednesday during the summer.

The health unit does not recommend swimming after a heavy rainfall even if the beach is open for swimming.