According to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, a charity organization that monitors water quality throughout the Lake Ontario watershed, only 5% of Toronto’s beachfronts are regularly tested and monitored, leaving 95% percent of such beachfronts as potential health hazards to citizens.
Gabi Parent Doliner of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper warns Toronto’s citizens against swimming in such waters, which are also consistently utilized for other recreational activities such as scuba diving, paddle boarding and kayaking.
“The inner harbour is susceptible to sewage,” said Doliner. “Last year the beaches like Huber Bay Park West failed about 50% of the time. When beaches are chosen to be tested, things like a lifeguard are considered, but often they’re not tested to discourage the public from going in.”
Doliner also warned of skin rashes, infections and also the potential to contract viruses when swimming in contaminated waters.
Currently, the city of Toronto pulls daily water samples from the officially supervised beaches in order to test for E. coli bacteria. However, many residents of the city make use of unregulated beach areas not tested by the city, significantly increasing the health risks. As it stands, Toronto Public Health advises citizens not to swim during or after storms, floods or heavy rainfall is such weather events can adversely affect E. coli levels in water.