York Region Beach Sampling Program
York Region Community and Health Services monitors water quality at York Region's public bathing beaches during the summer months to ensure that the water quality is safe for swimming. The York Region Beach Sampling Program is scheduled to begin the second week of June every year.
Community and Health Services staff will collect a minimum of five water samples from each beach sampling site once a week. These samples are tested by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Laboratories Branch, for bacterial quality. High levels of bacteria can cause skin, ear, eye, nose and throat infections as well as stomach disorders.
If bacterial counts exceed provincial guidelines (100 E.coli per 100ml of water), Community and Health Services will post a sign at the beach advising the public that the water is unsafe for swimming. Beaches will be closed when there are indications of hazardous or infectious materials present in the water, or in the event of a blue-green algae bloom. When the water is once again safe for swimming, the beach will be re-opened.
The quality of lake water can change dramatically day to day, hour to hour or even minute to minute. York Region Health Services advises users of recreational waters not to swim for up to 2 days following heavy rainfall as water may be polluted at all swimming locations with high levels of bacteria from a variety of pollution sources. Also, high wave action may stir up bacteria settled on the lake bottom. If you can't see your feet, it may not be safe to swim.
Environment Canada classifies rainfall as follows:
The following York Region beaches are tested:
Recreation Island at Seneca College in King City and Sunset Beach at Lake Wilcox in Richmond Hill are no longer being sampled by the Medical Officer of Health.
There are many factors that contribute to water pollution leading to beach postings at our beaches, including:
How can you help to keep our beaches clean and safe for swimming during the summer months?
Several private beach associations monitor their own beach water quality. York Region Health Services welcomes the opportunity to assist beach associations with the set-up of water sampling programs.