Cobourg’s West Harbour closed to swimming due to E. coli

Town staff will be fencing off the area and posting 'no swimming' signs on July 29

Scanning electron micrograph of Escherchia coli (E. coli) bacteria. (Image: NIAID)
Scanning electron micrograph of Escherchia coli (E. coli) bacteria. (Image: NIAID)

West Harbour in Cobourg is closed for swimming effective immediately.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit has advised the Town of Cobourg to shut down swimming at West Harbour and to post “no swimming” signs immediately due to high Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria readings found in the water.

The latest beach and harbour water quality report sampled on Sunday (July 26) show bacteria levels above 1,000 E. coli, which exceeds the provincial standard of 200 E. coli.

“There is always a level of risk when swimming in natural bodies of water that are not treated for bacteria,” said Bernard Mayer, manager of health protection and environmental health at the HKPR District Health Unit. “Public swimming is not recommended as it may increase your risk of developing minor skin, eye, ear, nose or throat infections or stomach illness.”

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As a result of a combination of extended high temperatures, very little rain, and high concentrations of water fowl in the West Harbour basin, the most recent E. Coli bacteria tests results are now indicating levels that require West Harbour to close immediately.

Beginning on Wednesday (July 29), town staff will be fencing off West Harbour and posting signs warning swimmers of the high E. coli levels.

The HKPR District Health Unit and Town of Cobourg staff both sample water once a week to monitor bacteria levels. The Town of Cobourg will advise the community once bacteria levels come back down to a safe level.

If you have been swimming in West Harbour and experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, you should seek medical attention.

West Harbour was previously closed in late June due to high E. coli levels.