Two weeks ago, we 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. By dividing the lake into quadrants, we hope to provide a more local view: Canada West, Canada East, US West, and US East.
Water quality data is still in the process of improving. After reading the list, please consider the important notes that follow.
Without further ado, here are Lake Ontario’s best and worst beaches in 2015. Did your local beach make the top 5?
- Darlington Provincial Park – Bowmanville, Ontario
- Gibraltar – Toronto, Ontario
- Woodbine Beach – Toronto, Ontario
- Charles Daley East – Jordan, Ontario
- Bluffers Beach & Hanlan's Point – Toronto, Ontario
- Pier 4 – Hamilton, Ontario
- Bayfront – Hamilton, Ontario
- Jones Beach – St. Catharines, Ontario
- Kinsmen Beach – Port Perry, Ontario
- Thorah Centennial Park – Georgina, Ontario
- Cedardale – Brighton, Ontario
- Victoria – Cobourg, Ontario
- Moira Lake – Madoc, Ontario
- Little Lake Public Beach – Colborne, Ontario
- Warsaw Caves – Warsaw, Ontario
- Bewdley – Bewdley, Ontario
- Tweed Park – Tweed, Ontario
- Squirrel Creek – South Monaghan, Ontario
- Hastings South – Hastings, Ontario
- Wellington Beach – Wellington, Ontario
- Darien Lake – Darien, New York
- Hartland Cove Campground – Gasport, New York
- Niagara County Camping Resort – Lockport, New York
- Wilson Tuscarora – Wilson, New York
- Fort Niagara State Park – Youngstown, New York
- Camp Kenan Beach – Barker, New York
- Niagara Lazy Lakes Campground – Lockport, New York
- Ontario Beach Park – Rochester, New York
- Krull Park, Olcott Beach – Olcott, New York
- Hamlin Beach (H3) – Hamlin, New York
- Brennan’s Beach–Pulaski, New York
- Keuka Lake – Keuka Park, New York
- Cayuga Lake – Seneca Falls, New York
- Long Point – Moravia, New York
- Taughannock Falls – Ulysses, New York
- Buttermilk Falls (Falls Swim Area) – Ithaca, New York
- Seneca – Geneva, New York
- Fillmore Glen – Locke, New York
- Southwick Beach State Park – Henderson, New York
- Robert H. Treman – Newfield, New York
Top 5 lists are great but it’s important to keep in mind that currently, available water quality data isn't completely accurate. For this reason, please consider the following notes.
- It’s a good thing when municipalities report beach water quality problems. Regions that report poor water quality days do a better job protecting public health and raising awareness for infrastructure needs. We applaud the regions that continue to monitor vulnerable waters and honestly report data to the public.
- 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.
- Recreational water quality standards vary depending on the region. The US rec water quality standard is 126 counts of E. coli per 100 mL, whereas Ontario standards are 100 counts of E. coli.
- 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.