Orange beaches explained, deemed safe to use

April 13, 2018

Recent sightings of a handful of orange-tinged beaches along Kelowna’s lakefront are due to a natural process and have been deemed safe.

A report completed by an independent company that tested samples from Cedar Creek Beach on April 12, concludes that the orange residue is caused by naturally occurring iron-related bacteria. There is no risk to pets, people or wildlife posed by the bacteria, other than possibly staining clothing. The findings were also confirmed by the Ministry of Environment. 

The bacteria that surfaced at Cedar Creek as well as in areas at Rotary Beach and Kinsmen Beach is due to low lake levels and groundwater seeping to the surface containing higher than normal iron levels.

“It’s likely that the work to mitigate flooding by proactively lowering lake levels is in large part the reason that this orange colouring has surfaced this spring,” says Blair Stewart, Parks Services Manager. “Once lake levels begin to rise, the colour will dissipate into the lake water again. Any residue remaining on the beaches will eventually dry out and may leave a rust-coloured coating on rocks in the area, but is not harmful.”     

Beach water quality testing is conducted annually in Kelowna starting in the late spring and into the summer months. You can check the latest information on beach water quality by visiting the Recreation Water page on the Interior Health Authority website.