New Beach Testing Technique Being Studied At University Of Windsor

A new technique for testing the safety of water at area beaches is being developed at the University of Windsor.

The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research is mid-way through the 4 year project.

Doug Haffner is the Canada Research Chair Great Lakes Environmental Health at GLIER and says this is a major step forward.


Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor (photo by AM800's Peter Langille)

He says up to now beach testing was only sampling for E-coli, but they're looking at a broader scan using a genomic approach with new technology.

Haffner says it's important to get a baseline of data now: "the lakes are changing, climate change is real, the Great Lakes are the 2nd fastest warming lakes in the world so we expect to see some major changes occurring in the Great Lakes.  So we need to start making observations that will ensure we can maintain these uses in the long term"

He says the broader spectrum of things they're testing for could be a life saver because we do know already in the Great Lakes there has been trouble with cryptospiridium, for example, a pathogen which has killed people in the Great Lakes.

Haffner says the new testing technique is much faster, producing results in an hour or so and not the current days.

He expects the project to be complete in 2 years.

GLIER received a $500,000 grant from the national research council to do the project.