Guest Blog By: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper
In December 2015, Waterkeeper released Swim Guide’s second annual Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Beach Report. While Lake Ontario’s results showed a general improvement, we also want to give recreational water users a closer look at their beaches. A naughty and nice list, so to speak.
Which beaches met recreational water quality standards more frequently? On the opposite end, which beaches frequently failed?
Because of its size, Lake Ontario experiences varied levels of stress depending on the region. Water quality data is still in the process of improving, after reading the list, please consider the important notes that follow as well.
Without further ado, here are the Lake Ontario watershed’s best and worst beaches in 2015. Did your local beach make the top 10?
- Darlington Provincial Park – Bowmanville, Ontario
- Gibraltar – Toronto, Ontario
- Woodbine Beach – Toronto, Ontario
- Charles Daley East – Jordan, Ontario
- Bluffers Beach & Hanlan's Point – Toronto, Ontario
- Cedardale – Brighton, Ontario
- Victoria – Cobourg, Ontario
- Moira Lake – Madoc, Ontario
- Little Lake Public Beach – Colborne, Ontario
- Warsaw Caves – Warsaw, Ontario
- Pier 4 – Hamilton, Ontario
- Bayfront – Hamilton, Ontario
- Jones Beach – St. Catharines, Ontario
- Kinsmen Beach – Port Perry, Ontario
- Thorah Centennial Park – Georgina, Ontario
- Bewdley – Bewdley, Ontario
- Tweed Park – Tweed, Ontario
- Squirrel Creek – South Monaghan, Ontario
- Hastings South – Hastings, Ontario
- Wellington Beach – Wellington, Ontario
Top 5 lists are great but it’s important to keep in mind that currently, available water quality data isn't completely accurate for these reasons:
- Water quality “no data” days were not considered. For instance, there are regions where daily testing is not conducted following a heavy rainfall and where monitoring authorities re-sample until they “pass” water quality standards.
- Freshwater recreational water quality standards focus on bacteria levels. “Standards” are limits set by official agencies - usually governments - based on the advice of scientists. Other water quality concerns found in freshwater such as radiation, mercury, cyanobacteria (bluegreen algae), and viruses are not ignored but are more challenging to standardize across regions.
- Monitoring frequency varies. During the swimming season, Toronto beaches are sampled daily but beaches in the Halton region are sampled weekly. There are also regions that only monitor once a month and cherry-pick the best results. With that being said, there could be beaches that had worse water quality results. Unfortunately, these results are unknown to the public.
Lake Ontario Waterkeeper is a Canadian charity working for a day when every person in our watershed can safely touch the water, when the water is pure enough to drink, and when the lake is clean and wild enough that you could toss in a line anywhere and pull out a fish. For more information visit http://www.waterkeeper.ca.
Photo: J. Black