The City of Maple Ridge is warning that hot, dry weather in the coming weeks could result in another closure of Whonnock Lake Park.
The beach and dock were closed to the public for 14 days at the beginning of July because of high E. coli counts, only opening again July 16 when testing showed that e-coli levels had returned to the safe ranges on two consecutive tests.
High E.coli levels at the lake are typical when there are hot temperatures and low rainfall, explained the city’s director of parks and facilities, Valoree Richmond.
Water is tested weekly at the lake and the beach area will be closed if samples indicate E. coli levels are outside the safe ranges. The city does not treat the lake water. Rainfall and low numbers of waterfowl also help to keep E. coli levels down, added Richmond. Although, she emphasized, they are not interfering with wildlife at the park.
People have been flocking to the popular recreation site all summer long. In July, there were approximately 10,000 vehicle visits – despite the two week closure.
Numbers rebounded to normal levels when the beach reopened in the middle of the month, said Richmond.
The August Long weekend saw 322 car visits to the park on July 31, 457 on August 1 and 681 on August 2.
Richmond has increased the frequency of garbage pickup and washroom cleaning within the park to reflect the escalating usage and, she added, there has also been regular daily inspections.
A recent fire ban by the Maple Ridge Fire Department has been, for the most part, complied with, said Richmond.
“The use of propane barbecues is allowed and we have not seen any significant cases where the fire ban is being breached. People understand that this stretch of dry weather has elevated the fire risk and people have been very helpful in reducing the risk of a human caused fire,” she noted, adding the fire department has increased their visibility as part of regular patrols to help reinforce the message.
Maple Ridge residents recently had their say about proposed improvements to Whonnock Lake Park.
The city received around 90 comment forms regarding the proposed locations for new washrooms, showers, and a permanent caretaker residence at the park.
“The feedback has been thoughtful and reflects the customer experience information we were hoping for,” said Richmond, thanking those who shared their views.
“We will share a summary of the feedback when the report moves forward.”
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