NOTE: The results shown are taken monthly and measure the E. coli per 100 ml of beach water. The results will be used to track long term trends in water quality. The decision to swim should be based on real time conditions and not the monthly test results.
Beaches at Provincial Parks are monitored by the local authority.
Beaches are selected for monitoring based on their use for swimming and other water activities. Grey Bruce Health Unit monitors the quality of the water at public beaches based on the Beach Management Guidance Document (2014).
A public beach is defined as any public bathing area owned and/or operated by a municipality which the general public has direct access, and where there is reason to believe that there is recreational use of the water (e.g. beach signage, sectioned off swimming area, water safety/rescue equipment) which may result in waterborne illness or injury as determined by the local medical officer of health.
The Grey Bruce Health unit collects monthly water samples primarily to track ongoing beach water quality and to monitor for the long term impacts of climate change.
Due to a 24 hour delay in obtaining water sample results from the lab, sampling provides limited assistance in determining the level of risk posed by recreational water to the users of the beach. This delay limits the usefulness of these results in making decisions about whether it is safe to swim. For this reason, the health unit promotes real-time monitoring of conditions at the time of use, such as water turbidity and recent rainfall, as the best way to assess water safety.
Water is tested for E.coli bacteria. Based on historical data, swimmers could expect the E. coli concentration to exceed 200 CFU/100 mL if there has been rainfall in the last 24 to 48 hours and/or the water is turbid or cloudy.
- Seasonal and storm surface run-off into rivers and lakes
- Pet waste run-off
- Large populations of waterfowl (geese, seagulls, etc.)
- Warm water temperatures
- Malfunctioning private sewage disposal systems
- Boating wastes
- Agricultural manure run-off
Key Beach Safety Messages
- Assess the water and environmental conditions before swimming.
- Always swim with a buddy and keep a cell phone nearby to call for help in an emergency.
- Life Jackets are Life Savers! Weak swimmers and children should wear life jackets in and around the water.
- Always supervise children and keep them “within arm’s reach”.
- Alcohol and swimming don't mix.
You can help keep the beaches clean by following these few simple tips:
- Not feeding animals or birds
- Observing local "stoop and scoop" by-laws and always pick up your pets waste
- Practicing pollution-free boating and disposing of human waste appropriately
- Keeping your private sewage disposal system in good working order.
- Stay away from the water if you are experiencing digestive or intestinal problems
For more information regarding the monitoring of public bathing beaches, please contact Public Health at 376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456.
Public Pools, Spas, Wading Pools, Splash Pads, and Water Slides
Why Inspect Recreational Water Facilities?
Ontario regulations and guidelines set out minimum standards to provide clear, clean water and safe conditions for bathers in public swimming pools, spas, wading pools, and water slides. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and some parasites can survive in these facilities and may cause eye, ear, throat, and skin infections along with respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses. Injury or death may result from physical hazards, such as broken or missing drain covers which can cause severe cuts, entrapment, and evisceration.
Public health inspectors perform routine inspections of these facilities and work with the operators to prevent and reduce the risk of water-borne illnesses and injury or death. All pools and spas are inspected at least once every three months for year-round facilities, with a minimum of 2 times per year for seasonal facilities.
What are Owners and Operators Responsible for?
Owners and operators of pools, spas and Class C facilities (public Spray/splash pads, wading pools and Receiving basin’s at the bottom water slides) are required by law to operate and maintain their facility according to Ontario Regulation 565 – Public Pools under the Health Protection and Promotion Act R.S.O. 1990, c.H.7. The Technical Standards and Safety Association has authority over and enforces water slide safety.
Please see the regulations, operator’s manuals, fact sheets and guidance documents for more information. If you require further assistance, please contact the Grey Bruce Health Unit.
Recreational Water Facilities Regulations and Guidance Documents:
Recreational Water Facilities