Seasonal public beach water testing begins

Between June 15 and June 26, 2020, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will begin the pre-seasonal assessment of all public beaches to ensure the beach is suitable for public recreational use. This includes sampling the water for E. coli and conducting safety checks for hazards that would render the beach area unsafe.

From June 29 to August 28, 2020, all public beach fronts will be inspected for safety hazards, and the water will be sampled on at least a monthly basis. Beaches that were posted with a swimming advisory during the 2019 bathing beach season will have the water tested once per week.

The water samples collected are analyzed for E. coli bacteria, which normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of this bacteria above acceptable levels can be an indication of fecal pollution, which could come from stormwater runoff, pets, or wildlife. If a bather ingested water that had high concentrations of E. coli, they could experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.

If water samples show elevated concentrations of bacteria, Public Health will post signs warning the public that the beach is unsafe for swimming. When warnings are posted at a beach, Public Health will collect daily samples to monitor the water quality at the affected beach. The swimming advisory signs remain at that beach until tests show that the bacteria levels are acceptable.

COVID-19 safety precautions:

While public bathing beaches have not been ordered closed by the province, the public are reminded of the COVID-19 precautions that remain in place which include:

  • Any person using the public beach including bathing in the water, must ensure that they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from any other person also using the public beach.
  • Social gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited by Ontario Regulation 52/20.
  • All outdoor playgrounds, play structures, and equipment remain closed.

Keeping you and your children safe in and around water:

  • Avoid swimming and other recreational water activities in the 48 hours after a heavy rainfall. E. coli levels may increase during this time.
  • Actively supervise children in and around water.
  • Keep young children within sight and arms’ reach.
  • Make sure young children and weak swimmers wear personal floatation devices (for example, life jackets) at all times.
  • Pay attention to any signs posted as they will have important information to keep you and your children safe.
  • Try not to swallow the water because it could make you or your children sick.

Members of the public are asked to contact Public Health for any blue-green algae sightings or physical hazards at a public beach. A public health inspector will provide immediate follow-up.

For more information on seasonal public beach water testing, please visit our website at phsd.ca or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 398 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

This item was last modified on June 18, 2020