Annual water quality testing set to begin at Nanaimo's outdoor swim spots

Testing begins June 18, 2024


Each year, during the summer months, the City of Nanaimo monitors water quality at popular swimming spots to make sure the water is clean for beach goers and for wildlife. Staff, with assistance from the Nanaimo Port Authority, take water samples from various locations in and around each beach as well as from the waterways that feed into them. The samples are then tested by a lab for fecal coliforms. If the level of fecal coliforms exceeds Provincial health guidelines, it will force a beach closure.

Testing occurs at the following locations: Brannen Lake, Colliery Dam Park, Departure Bay, Long Lake, Swy-A-Lana Lagoon (Maffeo Sutton Park) and Westwood Lake.

To help keep water clean and beaches open, pet owners are reminded to take their dogs to designated dog parks and off-leash areas. With shore birds and other naturally occurring wildlife in and around water bodies, adding pets to the mix could elevate the levels of fecal coliforms. The City of Nanaimo has a bylaw in place that states dogs are not to be on beaches or in the water between the beginning of May to the end of September each year. This bylaw is in place for all of Nanaimo’s lakes, streams and waterfront swimming spots with the exception of designated off-leash areas.

To view the latest beach reports, visit the City's website at

Link to Strategic Plan: The City of Nanaimo's water quality initiatives support the City's commitment to a Healthy Nanaimo that fosters community well-being and livability.

Key Points

  • The City of Nanaimo monitors coliform levels in Brannen Lake, Colliery Dam Park, Departure Bay, Long Lake, Swy-A-Lana Lagoon (Maffeo Sutton Park) and Westwood Lake to ensure that the beach can remain open during peak season. This year, monitoring will take place beginning June 18.
  • Each week, 24 samples are taken to ensure coliform levels remain within Provincial health guidelines.
  • Animal feces that wash into water bodies such as lakes, contributing creeks, drainage ditches or storm sewer system can raise coliform and E.coli levels in the water and may cause a beach closure.


"Monitoring Nanaimo's popular swimming spots for water quality not only benefits beach goers, but also the wildlife and aquatic life who live in and around these sources.We can all do our part to ensure our waterways and beaches are clean. Do not dispose feces, paint, drywall or oils into ditches, catch basins or any water source as they can end up in our streams and oceans."

General Manager, Engineering and Public Works
City of Nanaimo

Quick Facts

  • City of Nanaimo Bylaw 7316, section 48(a) states that no person shall permit any animal under their ownership or custody to be on a public beach during the months of May through September inclusive.
  • The following parks have designated off-leash areas: May Richards Bennett Pioneer, Beaufort, Westwood Lake, Invermere Beach, Northfield, Wardropper, Colliery Dam, St. George Ravine, Gallows' Point (Protection Island), Cable Bay Trail, Beban and Diver Lake (October - April).
  • In 1994 Departure Bay beach was closed to swimmers due to elevated levels of fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the water. There was too much bacteria in the water for it to be considered safe to swim in.


For media enquiries, please contact
City of Nanaimo

Print News Release

Help us improve our website

Don't include private or financial information in this form.
Collection and use of your personal information

Information collected on this form is done so under the general authority of the Community Charter and Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), and is protected in accordance with FOIPPA. Questions about the collection of your personal information may be referred to the Legislative Services Department at 250-755-4405, or via email at Please also see our Privacy Policy.