Beach Water Testing
York Region monitors the water quality at local public beaches. Water sampling is done in the summer starting in mid-June and continues until the end of August. A minimum of five samples are collected from each beach once a week and tested for bacteria.
A red sign at the beach indicates that levels of E. coli bacteria in the water are high enough to pose a greater risk to your health. This is a warning that swimming in the water may cause illness and the beach's status is "Advisory".
A blue sign at the beach indicates that the sample result shows the bacterial levels to be within acceptable limits and the beach's status is "Open". Blue signs on the beach also warn swimmers not to swim for two days after a heavy rainfall. Bacteria can increase after heavy rainfalls and be harmful. High waves can also stir up bacteria. Environment Canada rates rainfall as:
- Heavy: More than 7.55 mm per hour
- Medium: 2.6 to 7.5 mm per hour
- Light: Less than 2.5 mm per hour
If you cannot see your feet when standing in water up to your knees it may be unsafe to swim due to the level of bacteria in the water.
Beach Water Testing Results
York Region Public Health monitors water quality and bacterial levels at 14 public beaches during the summer months to ensure the water is safe for swimming.
During periods when high levels of bacteria are estimated, York Region Public Health posts warning signs at the beach advising residents the water is unsafe for swimming. High levels of bacteria in the water can cause skin, ear, eye, nose and throat infections as well as stomach disorders. When the bacterial levels in the water return to an acceptable level for swimming, the signs are removed.
For further information about recreational water quality in York Region contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or TTY 1-866-512-6228.
Beach Water Status
The beach sampling program has ended for the summer of 2022.
The regional Municipality of York beach water sampling program has concluded for the summer of 2022. The program will begin again next year in June of 2023. York Region Public Health Staff collect samples at local beaches and monitor bacteria levels to ensure the water is safe for swimming. Residents and visitors are encouraged to read signs posted at the beach so they can make an informed decision about entering the water.
Why Monitor Beach Water?
Beaches are monitored to protect swimmers from illnesses that may be linked to high bacteria levels. Swimming in water with high bacteria levels can result in an increased risk of infection of the ears, eyes, nose and throat or stomach illnesses if the water is swallowed. These types of illnesses are called recreational water illnesses. Obeying the signs posted at the beaches could reduce the risk of recreational water illness.
What can you do to help keep the beach water clean?
- If you live near the beach make sure your plumbing fixtures are properly connected to your local municipal sewers or private sewage disposal system
- Fence livestock away from streams in farming communities
- Maintain runoff from feedlots and manure piles
- Do not feed animals or birds on the beach
- Do not leave your garbage behind when you visit the beach
- Obey local “stoop and scoop” bylaws
- Whenever boating practice pollution-free boating
- Do not go into the water if you have an infection or open wound
Blue Green Algae Health Impacts
Public beaches in York Region are visually monitored on a routine basis for blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms during the beach sampling season. In cases where blue-green algae blooms are suspected, testing is arranged through the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. The Ministry has a comprehensive protocol for responding to occurrences of blooms of cyanobacteria. York Region will assess the risk in the event of a bloom and advise the public accordingly.
Blooms can be identified by their blue green soup-like or paint-like appearance. While blue-green algae blooms rarely occur at York Region beaches, any cyanobacteria bloom can be potentially toxic. In the event of a bloom, take a cautious approach since some varieties of algae can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Exposure to toxins can cause headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, skin rashes and irritation. If you experience any of these symptoms seek medical attention.
If you spot a bloom:
- Assume toxins are present
- Avoid using, drinking, bathing or swimming in the water; if skin contact occurs wash well with soap and water
- If you supply your own water to your home from surface water near a bloom, consider an alternate water supply for the duration of the bloom. Home water treatment systems may not remove toxins
- Restrict pet and livestock access to the water
- Be cautious when considering eating fish caught from a water body where blue-green algae blooms occur
- Follow these precautions for at least two weeks after the bloom has dissipated
- Call the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060 to report a bloom
For more information on health risks associated with blue-green algae blooms, the beach water monitoring program or beach advisories, please contact Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 to speak with a public health inspector.
Find out more about how York Region monitors the quality of the water
Monitored Public Beach Locations
- Claredon Beach Park
- De La Salle Park
- Franklin Beach
- Holmes Point Park
- Sheppard Avenue Park
- Jackson’s Point Beach/Bonnie Park
- Joy Marritt Parkette
- North Gwillimbury Park
- Peninsula Resort
- Riverview Park
- Willow Beach Park
- Willow Wharf Dock
- Corner Park
- Cedar Beach