Today, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper released our mid-summer Beach Report. Each summer, Waterkeeper keeps a daily record of which beaches have been posted as safe or unsafe for swimming. The mid-term report combines data from 40 beaches on the lake for June and July and finds that beaches are being posted more frequently as the summer goes on.
The seven areas monitored are: Durham, Hamilton, Toronto, Northumberland, Prince Edward County, and St. Catharines. The monitoring program allows us to see which municipalities are making important strides to win back Lake Ontario's beaches. With the accumulated information we are able to track major trends across the lake.
Waterkeeper found that beach postings in nearly every municipality are increasingly frequent as the season wears on. This is consistent with previous years' findings. The following table indicates percentage of closures by month and region:
Region JuneJuly Durham Region 20%55% Hamilton 19% 53% Northumberland County 15% 21% Mississauga 0% 15% Prince Edward County 31% 9% St. Catharines 61% 76% Toronto 22% 38%
As the statistics show, beach closures are on the rise in every municipality except Prince Edward County. No municipality comes close to attaining the provincial standard of being open 95 % of the time, as dictated by procedure F-55.
Some of these averages disguise other important findings. For example, three beaches were closed 100 % of the time in July. They were Bayfront Park Beach, in Hamilton, Rotary Park Beach, in Ajax , and Lakeview Beach West, in Oshawa.
Eight beaches were always open in July compared to sixteen in June. They were: Lakefront Promenade, in Missisauga; Hanlan's point, in Toronto; Frenchman's Bay West and Whitby Beach, in Durham Region; Centennial Park - Northport and Zwick's Island, in Prince Edward County; and Porth Hope East and Victoria, in Northumberland.
This summer, Waterkeeper learned that Kingston is now doing weekly sampling for E-coli at its beaches. We are working to incorporating their results into our monitoring program.
Also new this year, Waterkeeper began filling out amended Ministry of Health surveys. According to the province's health policies, every municipality should be completing these surveys in order to determine the causes of their chronic beach closures. Using the Freedom of Information process, Waterkeeper discovered that in fact no municipality has ever completed one. In doing these surveys, we hope to have a better idea as to why beaches are so frequently closed. They will also give us a better picture of what's going on at the beaches along the lake.
Waterkeeper will continue its monitoring of beaches throughout August. In the fall, we will release our final report for the swimming season of 2006.