Seagulls to blame for high E.coli levels in Goderich
Published Sunday, March 15, 2015 5:17PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:25PM EDT
For eight straight years, water samples off the shores of Goderich have been showing rising levels of E.coli.
"That was concerning, so we wanted to find out why that was," says Erica Clark with the Huron County Health Unit.
So, six samples from the worst water quality days in Goderich last August were sent away for testing.
"In all 6 samples, the E.coli came from seagulls. The other we tested for were absent," says Clark.
Clark says there's lots of other pollutants in the Great Lakes, algae caused by lawn and farm fertilizers and plastics washing ashore.
But on Goderich's three beaches on the highest E.coli days, the samples point the finger clearly at seagulls and their E.coli laced excrement.
So how do you keep seagulls off a beach?
Shoreline communities have tried almost everything, noisemakers, scarecrows, restrictive fencing and none of that has really worked.
But there has been one that has worked and worked very recently in Ottawa.
"Hamilton and Ottawa have a fine wire mesh that goes over the top of the beaches. It's not really noticeable I'm told. It's too early to be looking at the cost there but we have to look at all our options but certainly it's a problem we have to look at," says Kevin Morrison, Goderich mayor.
Goderich wants to gain blue flag status again.
It lost the environmental beach designation several years ago because of high E.coli levels.
But keeping seagulls away from a beach is like trying to keep people away from the beach on those hot summer days.
"It's our location, our proximity to the cities which is attracting the people and unfortunately, the fowl that is making our water foul," says Morrison.