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Sunday 15 September 2019
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[UPDATED] ‘Don’t bathe there after rain’

IMA: High bacteria levels in Chaguaramas waters

Research by the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) at several beaches along the western peninsula has shown high bacteria levels at two popular Chaguaramas beaches.

IMA research officer (microbiology) Sheldon Ramoutar advised swimmers to avoid bathing at Welcome Bay, Chaguaramas throughout the year and Williams Bay during and after rain.

At the IMA 6th community research symposium, on The Sea and Me: Livelihoods and Learning, at the Carenage Fishing Market on Wednesday, Ramoutar said sea bathers' exposure to health risks in these areas was increased.

He explained, “The bathing-beach water quality was evaluated to identify possible sources of sewage contamination by measuring the bacteriological water quality and physico-chemical parameters along Chaguaramas peninsula.

“Three bacterial indicators were chosen for this study (E coli, enterococci and faecal coliform). They were analysed using a membrane filtration method in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) protocol.”

Ramoutar said samples were collected at six near-shore locations during the July/August 2016 wet season and January/February 2017 dry season.

He said bacterial concentrations at three of the six stations failed during the wet season and declining beach water quality increased in a westward direction from Williams Bay to Chagville Beach to Welcome Bay.

“The high bacteria levels toward the western end were likely due to land-based run-off, and the westerly flow of currents, which brings debris from all other locations to this area.

He said the physico-chemical parameters collected were pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, and rainfall.

"The physico-chemical parameters were all within acceptable levels of the USEPA water quality standards. The results indicated a positive correlation with rainfall, as higher bacteria levels were observed during or after rainfall events."

Ramoutar hopes signs will be put up at the beaches to let people know the safe areas and times to bathe.

He gave details of the possible risks of swimming in water with high bacteria levels.

“If a toddler or a person with an open wound, or a person swallows water while they bathe in waters that are contaminated, they stand a greater chance of getting sick. I urge the public to avoid poor water-quality areas.

“If you are bathing in an area where you see water flowing in or coming from a community, you know all the stuff would be coming into the water."

He added, "Try to avoid bathing where there are drains and some rivers flowing into the sea."

He said the IMa takes samples froma lot of beaches in Trinidad, "But we need to maintain the sampling programme every year and have more education outreach to citizens. We will continue to inform the public how to recognise safe places to bathe and what to avoid.

Chairman of the IMA's board of governors Hayden Alexander said the Carenage community symposium aims to provide pertinent non-technical information on the state of the coastal environment in the northwest peninsula, based on sound scientific research.

He said the symposium will share lessons and practical solutions for tackling complex coastal issues.

“It is hoped that the discussions generated will encourage participation from the stakeholders and communities, clarify any misinformation, and provide a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and co-operation on the way forward.”

This story was originally published with the title "IMA: High bacteria levels in Chaguaramas waters" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


Research by the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) at several beaches along the western peninsula has shown high bacteria levels at two popular Chaguaramas beaches.

IMA research officer (Microbiology) Sheldon Ramoutar advised swimmers to avoid bathing at Welcome Bay, Chaguaramas throughout the year and Williams Bay during and after rain.

At the IMA 6th community research symposium, onThe Sea and Me: Livelihoods and Learning, at the Carenage Fishing Market on Wednesday, Ramoutar said sea bathers' exposure to health risks in these areas was increased.

He explained, “The bathing-beach water quality was evaluated to identify possible sources of sewage contamination by measuring the bacteriological water quality and physico-chemical parameters along Chaguaramas peninsula.

“Three bacterial indicators were chosen for this study (E coli, enterococci and faecal coliform.) They were analysed using a membrane filtration method in accordance with the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) protocol.”

“The high bacteria level's toward the western end were likely due to land-based run-off, and the westerly flow of currents which brings debris from all other locations to this area.”

He said the results indicated a positive correlation with rainfall as higher bacteria levels were observed during or after rain.

Ramoutar said it is his hope there can be proper signage at beaches to let people know the safe areas and times to bathe.

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