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No-swim advisory in place for Ambleside beach due to high E. coli levels

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Signs went up Saturday at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver warning visitors not to swim or wade in the ocean.

A spokesperson for the District of West Vancouver confirmed the water quality advisory is due to an elevated E. coli count, but said the exact cause can’t be determined.

“These bacteria are found in the feces of people, as well as all warm-blooded animals and birds,” she wrote. “High numbers of E. coli in the water at public beaches indicates contamination with feces and the potential presence of other harmful microorganisms in the water.”

Advisory notices go up when the count reaches a “geometric mean” of more than 200 E. coli per 100 millilitres or a single sample of more than 235 E. coli per 100 millilitres, according to Vancouver Coastal Health.

The district said it doesn’t have the official E.coli count for Ambleside beach, but that officials notified staff that the bacteria levels met the advisory criteria on Friday.

The latest publicly available sample for the popular spot was collected last Wednesday and had 594 E. coli per 100 millilitres.

The spokesperson said the water would be tested again on Tuesday with the results available Wednesday.

In a statement to CTV News, VCH said other possible sources of E. coli contamination include storm water runoff, which can contain chemicals from cars, sewer overflows, leaking septic tanks and discharge from boats. Bacteria levels can also be elevated after heavy rainfall.

The health authority said high concentrations of E. coli can increase the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses and skin and eye infections for swimmers.

VCH regularly tests water for E.coli at popular Metro Vancouver beaches between May and September. On Sunday, Ambleside was the only beach in the region with a water quality advisory in place. 

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