Fredericton, May 5, 2017 — Today, the provincial government announced infrastructure investments and restrictions on new development specific to the Parlee Beach area. Lois Corbett, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, issued the following statement.
“Today’s announcement is an important step to protect the health of our treasured Parlee Beach ecosystem and the families who swim and play there.
These investments, coupled with better impact assessment for new developments, including campgrounds, should speed up the repair of this valued beach ecosystem. Better sewage treatment, combined with smart education programs, will reduce harmful bacteria that can pollute our coast and jeopardize human health. Keeping our bays and beaches clean always pays off for our coastal economies.
Pollution from near shore developments on the Northumberland Strait, like campgrounds and roads, won’t be solved by today’s announcement. The Conservation Council encourages the Minister of Environment to move the coastal zone protection policy from being a paper document to a regulation under the Clean Water Act, and to classify important bay areas to protect their health, like they currently do in Maine. Putting in place a comprehensive land use policy and much wider wetland and salt marsh buffer zones for the entire Northumberland Strait region would further safeguard public and environmental health.
Projects we will monitor closely with respect to Parlee Beach water quality include the cumulative effects assessment and protocols development (which will study the impact of the total pollution going into Shediac Bay, not just pollution from individual projects), and an independent ground survey of local wetlands to improve our understanding of their size and the ecological services these critical spaces provide.”
In April, the Conservation Council welcomed the provincial government’s decision to use Health Canada’s technical and science-based guidelines for beach water safety at Parlee Beach. The protocol includes daily water quality testing, seven days a week, with all monitoring results and public health advisories posted online for easy public access.
The province announced rules for notifying the public about water quality test results after it was revealed that high levels of fecal contamination in the water at Parlee Beach, including E. coli, went unreported for the past three summers.
Escherichia coli (abbreviated as E. coli) are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Although most strains of E. coli are harmless, others can make you sick and can cause kidney failure, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia. When we discover E. coli in water, it usually has come from sewage runoffs, and animal faecal matter. That’s why health officials all over the world carefully monitor E. coli and its different strains.
Health Canada has set safe limits for E. coli in drinking water and E. coli in recreational waters. The number of faecal bacteria considered unsafe for recreational swimming varies depending on whether the bacteria is found in freshwater or saltwater. If tests find more than a geometric mean of 35 for every 100 millilitres (just a wee bit less than 1/2 cup), it is declared unsafe for all and the beach is closed.
To arrange an interview, contact:
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
506-458-8747 | 506-238-3539