While beaches and parks offer Toronto residents a chance to enjoy the summer, especially as activities like travel remain unlikely during the COVID-19 pandemic, two beaches in the city have been marked unsafe for swimming.
As of Thursday, Sunnyside Beach and Kew Balmy Beach have been deemed unsafe, as E. coli levels exceed the City of Toronto’s established beach water quality standard of 100 E. coli per 100 millilitres of water.
Sunnyside Beach has been unsafe to swim in for most of the summer and Wednesday’s measurements show beach is testing above the quality standard with an E. coli level of 127.
For some time, the water has gone through fluctuating numbers from day to day, making its safety unpredictable.
While Kew Balmy Beach has been mostly safe to swim in this summer, it’s also well above the quality standard with an E. coli level of 157. On August 15, its water quality was at 522.
According to the city, Lake Ontario is experiencing record-high water levels; this combined with the heat are prime conditions for the formation of bacteria.
“The public should not swim during and after storms, floods, or heavy rainfall,” the warning reads. “Cloudy water can be an indicator of high levels of bacteria that may pose a risk to human health.”
From June to Labour Day, the City of Toronto takes daily water samples from all 11 supervised beaches across the city and tests for E. coli bacteria. When E. coli levels are high, Toronto Public Health posts warning signs against swimming.
If you’re wondering if your beach of choice is safe for swimming on a specific day, the status of the beach water is updated daily. Visit Toronto’s SwimSafe page for an up-to-date status of all the beaches in the city.
A reminder that swimming at any of the city’s beaches without the supervision of a lifeguard or outside of designated swim areas is not recommended.