Southern Vancouver Island is surrounded by water with many local recreational beaches frequented during the summer and winter months. Our local health authority (VIHA) samples these throughout the summer months but stops during fall and winter. Surfrider Vancouver Island is working to fill in these sampling gaps, as well as double check summer results, while engaging the public, youth and First Nations.
We are sampling from 15 different recreational beaches and waterways, 3 of which are fresh water streams, and are testing for Enterococcus (marine) and E. coli (fresh water). We test beaches weekly and sample at least two beaches per field trip. We choose beaches for each sampling event by considering our previous results and those of our local water quality authority to target those at the highest risk of contamination. We compare our results to the Canadian bacteria health standards for recreational waters.
We are working with a number of different groups to engage the public and youth. We have successfully engaged over 50 volunteers since the start of our program in June 2014. To date our partnerships have included:
FUN Society kids camps
YMCA Summer Work Student Exchange
We are working with the WSÁNEĆ School Board and TSAWOUT Band to engage with youth in their Tribal School and to sample on Reserve waters. We are also in talks with Esquimalt Secondary to bring this program into the classroom.
Our program is made possible through generous grants from Mountain Equipment Co-op and Hartwig Industries Inc.