Monitoring the Water at Halton's Beaches

How are beaches selected for monitoring?

  • Beaches are selected for monitoring based on their use for swimming and other water activities.

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Why are beaches monitored?

  • Halton Region’s Health Department monitors area beaches to protect swimmers from illnesses or harm that may be linked to unsafe water quality.
  • Swimming in water with unacceptable bacteria levels can result in an increased risk of infection of the ears, eyes, nose and throat. Gastrointestinal, or stomach illnesses, may also occur if water is swallowed.
  • Swimming in water with excess algae or other debris can be a hazard.

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How are beaches sampled?

  • Health Department staff collect a minimum of 5 water samples from each beach once a week to assess water quality.
  • These samples are analyzed by The Provincial Public Health Laboratory for E.coli bacteria. E. coli is found in the intestines and feces of all warm-blooded animals. It is used as an indicator of fecal pollution. The results of the water samples indicate the quality of the beach water at the time the beach was sampled .
  • Algae is monitored by viewing and observing the water.

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A warning sign is posted by the Local Municipality advising the users that the water may be unsafe for swimming When is a beach considered to be unsafe for swimming?

  • A beach is considered unsafe for swimming if water sample results indicate that the average level of E. coli is higher than the Provincial guideline of 100 E.coli / 100mL of water or there is an excess of algae.
  • To alert bathers to the potential of a higher than normal risk of infection, a warning sign is posted by the Local Municipality advising the users that the water may be unsafe for swimming. Postings are removed once sample results indicate the levels of bacteria are within acceptable limits.

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What are some factors that influence beach water quality?

  • 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

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How can I help keep Halton Beaches clean?

You can help keep Halton’s 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.

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How can I find out if a beach is safe for swimming?

For weekly updated sampling results, you can:

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