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Swim time! Public Health to begin water safety testing at public beaches next week

Safety checks, water samples testing for E. coli among the steps being taken
Hot day in Bell Park. (File)

Public Health Sudbury and Districts will begin pre-seasonal testing of all public beaches June 14 to ensure they are suitable for public recreational use.

Testing includes sampling of water for E. coli and conducting safety checks for hazards that would render the beach area unsafe. This work will continue until June 25, said the health unit.

From June 28 to Aug. 27, all public beach fronts will be inspected for safety hazards, and the water will be sampled on at least a monthly basis. The water samples collected are analyzed for E. coli bacteria, which normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. The presence of this bacteria above acceptable levels can be an indication of fecal pollution, which could come from stormwater runoff, pets, or wildlife. If a bather ingested water that had high concentrations of E. coli, they could experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting.

If water samples show elevated concentrations of bacteria, Public Health will post signs warning the public that the beach is unsafe for swimming. When warnings are posted at a beach, Public Health will collect daily samples to monitor the water quality at the affected beach. The swimming advisory signs remain at that beach until tests show that the bacteria levels are acceptable.

COVID-19 safety precautions

While public bathing beaches have not been ordered closed by the province, the public is reminded of the COVID-19 precautions that remain in place which include:

  • Any person using the public beach, including bathing in the water, must ensure that they maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from individuals who do not reside in their household.
  • Be respectful of provincial restrictions on gatherings.
  • If play structures are accessible and open for use, the use of face coverings is recommended (exemptions apply). Hand hygiene should be practised after use. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly soiled. Alternatively, the use of wet wipes to remove soil/dirt followed with hand sanitizer can be used.
  • Keeping you and your children safe in and around water:
  • Avoid swimming and other recreational water activities in the 48 hours after a heavy rainfall. E. coli levels may increase during this time.
  • Actively supervise children in and around water.
  • Keep young children within sight and arms’ reach.
  • Make sure young children and weak swimmers wear personal floatation devices (for example, life jackets) at all times.
  • Pay attention to any signs posted as they will have important information to keep you and your children safe.
  • Try not to swallow the water because it could make you or your children sick.

Members of the public are asked to contact Public Health for any blue-green algae sightings or physical hazards at a public beach. A public health inspector will provide immediate follow-up.

For more information on seasonal public beach water testing, please visit our website at or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts at (705) 522-9200, ext. 398 (toll-free 1-866-522-9200).