Public Beach Water Advisories
Public beaches in the counties of Prescott-Russell, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, and the City of Cornwall
- Current Public Beach Water Advisories
- About public beach water testing
- Why is a public beach posted?
- What causes contamination?
- What can you do to help prevent contamination?
Current Beach Water Advisories
Beach monitoring has ended. It will resume the week of May 20, 2019.
About public beach water testing
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) samples the swimming water at all local public beaches throughout the operating season to ensure it does not exceed the established bacteria levels. If bacteria levels exceed the safe swimming limit, a sign is posted advising people that the water is unsafe for swimming. Beaches are re-opened after bacteria levels return to acceptable levels.
The EOHU is not mandated to test the water quality of private beaches. Private beach operators are responsible for monitoring the bacteria levels of their water.
Why is a public beach posted?
An elevated bacteria density in the water is the major cause of postings. The most common bacteria is E. coli, which may indicate the presence of fecal coliforms (FC), an organism that exists in the feces of virtually all warm-blooded animals. In Ontario, the recreational water quality guideline is a maximum of 200 E. coli per 100 mL of water.
Occasionally, a public beach may also be posted if the inspector notices floating debris, oils, scum, excessive algae growth, bad odours and turbidity.
A public beach that has been posted because of high contamination levels will be subjected to more frequent water sampling.
What causes contamination?
Very little movement or flow in a body of water may create the right conditions for contamination. However, this water degradation is preventable.
Three main elements contaminate the water sources in this region:
- Erosion or malfunction of structures meant to hold agricultural and domestic fecal contaminants, causing runoff that allows bacteria to enter streams and drainage ditches.
- Contamination due to large populations of waterfowl and other wildlife that colonize a beach, domestic animals left to defecate, and livestock that have free access to streams or rivers.
- Storm water runoff that washes fecal material from all different sources into rivers and lakes, contributing to water pollution. Beach postings often occur after a rainstorm.
What can you do to help prevent contamination?
Several things can be done to help prevent contamination of beach water:
- Pet owners must adhere to the “stoop and scoop” by-laws and remove dog feces immediately.
- Detach eaves troughs from sewers so they can discharge onto lawns and other permeable surfaces.
- Reduce household water use to avoid overflow problems in sewage treatment plants.
- Fence livestock away from streams and provide them with alternate water sources.
- Ensure that runoff from feedlots and manure piles is properly contained.
- Upgrade septic systems and keep them in good working order.