By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
Recent high waters and heavy rain can affect local beaches in more than one way. The Quebec Lodge beach in Hatley, on the shores of Lake Massawippi, has been closed due to “elevated bacterial contamination”, according to a July 19 press release sent out by Quebec’s Environment Ministry. A July 20 Ministry press release indicated that the beach of Camp d’Action Biblique in Richmond had been closed for the same reason. The City of Sherbrooke has closed Lucien-Blanchard beach on the Magog River due to elevated water levels, the City announced on July 20.
Water testing at local beaches is done by Programme Environnement-Plage (PEP). They offer this service to all public beaches. “I received a phone call yesterday [July 19] at about 10 o’clock in the morning,” Quebec Lodge Camp Director Brian Wharry said. That’s when he learned from PEP that Quebec Lodge beach was closed. They said the water class was graded class ‘D’ (unusable), Wharry said. “I’ve been here [Quebec Lodge] for 34 years and it’s never happened,” he said.
“It’s a bit frustrating for us,” Wharry said. “I knew when he [the tester from PEP] took the water test [July 17] it wasn’t going to be good.” The beach is right beside a river and when there is heavy rain, silt and debris washes out into the waters surrounding their beach, he said. Everything gets very muddy.