About Toronto Beach Water Quality

Toronto has some of the best beaches in the world, which is verified by the internationally recognized Blue Flag Program.

From June to Labour Day, Toronto Public Health (TPH) takes daily water samples from eleven supervised beaches across the city, and measures the level of E.coli Bacteria present. When E.coli levels are high, TPH posts warning signs against swimming.

Testing Toronto Beach Water Quality

From June to Labour Day, the City's beaches water quality is tested on a daily basis. If E.coli levels in the water are high, TPH will post signs warning against swimming.

In 2005, some city beach names were combined to identify the high use areas and to maintain the historical significance of the beaches. The newly merged beach names are:

  • Sunnyside Beach – includes Sir Casimir Gzowski, Sunnyside and Budapest Park
  • Woodbine Beaches – includes Woodbine Beach and Ashbridges Bay Beach
  • Kew-Balmy Beach – includes Kew Beach and Balmy Beach

E. coli Levels and Water Quality

E.coli bacteria and other harmful organisms found in animal and human waste can be present in beach water depending on environmental conditions. These E.coli levels are measured by TPH to determine the water quality and the safety conditions for public swimming.

The standard for beach water quality in Ontario is set by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change at 100 E.coli per 100 millilitres of water. Swimming in water with E.coli levels greater than the provincial standard exposes the bather to increased risk of infections. These infections can include:

  • Ear, nose and throat infections
  • Skin rashes
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea

Those most susceptible to infections from harmful germs in polluter water include young children, the elderly, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Water quality is tested every day from June through August at all of Toronto's 11 public beaches.

The following notices are issued for each beach based on testing results:

Unsafe status icon

Beach is posted as unsafe for bathing

E.col levels are higher than the provincial standard and may put bathers at increased risk of infection. To prevent illness, the Medical Officer of Health recommends bathers do not enter water until E.coli levels decline.

Safe status icon

Beach is posted as safe for bathing

E.coli levels are within the provincial standard and bathing is considered safe for healthy bathers.

No data status icon

Data not available

Occasionally TPH is not able to test the water quality due to circumstances such as adverse weather conditions.

Look for these signs on the beach to tell you whether it's safe to swim:

  • Beach Water Quality Hotline (416-392-7161) Sign
  • Warning Unsafe for Swiming Sign