We should find out on Friday if Castlegar’s Millennium Park swimming ponds can reopen after being closed since Aug. 7 due to elevated levels of E. coli.
Civic works operations manager Michael Gagnier told council Monday that water sample test results were expected back on Wednesday, indicating whether measures they have taken are working. However, they won’t be available for a couple more days.
The city increased flows to flush the ponds and improve water quality and also stepped up patrols to scare away geese, who are blamed for the rise in E. coli.
“We have to wait and see what the test results are,” Gagnier said. “Failing that, we will have to reassess whether it is worth it to drain and refill the ponds before they would be closed for the season anyway.”
Gagnier said the geese seem to be more prevalent simply because the ponds themselves have been quieter given the wildfire smoke and larger algae bloom.
“Without anyone on the beach, there was no reason for them not to be there,” he said.
Gagnier explained the reason they don’t pump more water through the ponds at all times is because the faster it goes, the faster the algae bloom grows. The algae isn’t harmful and is not an indication of poor water quality, but Gagnier admitted it doesn’t look very nice, making the pools less appealing to humans, which in turn allows the geese to move in.
Experts the city has consulted have told them to slow the water as much as possible to increase the temperature and decrease the nutrients the algae feed on.
Gagnier said they also looked into a suggestion to add a water spout feature, but discovered the aeration only increases nutrient absorption by the algae.