City's beaches continuously monitored for bacteria |
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Works and Emergency Services --- Water samples from the City's 14
lifeguarded beaches are taken every day from beginning of June until Labour Day
by City staff. A provincial lab tests the samples for E. coli bacteria. The
results of the testing are reviewed by Toronto Public Health, which determines
whether to post the beaches as safe or unsafe for swimming.
In previous years, the water was tested for bacteria four days a week. The new
daily tests should see the beaches open to swimming more often this summer. E.
coli counts in the water often rise after rainstorms because the City's
combined sewers carrying both rainwater and sewage may overflow into the lake.
Therefore the amount of rain falling during any given summer will affect the
number of beach postings that occur. This situation makes it difficult to draw
comparisons from one summer to the next or to state definitively whether water
pollution is getting better or worse at the City's beaches.
"While the City's major stormwater management plan, the Wet Weather Flow
Management Master Plan, is being developed, we've undertaken a number of
activities to reduce water pollution," said Michael D'Andrea, Manager of
Infrastructure Asset Management, Water and Wastewater Services Division.
He added, "The successful downspout disconnection program provides Toronto
residents with free disconnection of their home's eavestrough downspout from
the sewer system. Reducing the volume of rainwater entering the combined sewer
system lowers the risk of the system becoming overloaded and overflowing into
the lake." This home-based program lets the public be part of the solution.
The number of City beaches where sampling occurs is determined by the
province's 1998 Beach Management Protocol, which identifies requirements such
as having a municipal lifeguard in order to designate an area of waterfront a
beach. Consistent with the protocol, in 2000, Etobicoke community beaches
Humber Bay East Park, Amos Waites, Colonel Samuel Smith East and West, and
Marie Curtis West were exempted from the sampling program.
The City has an active public education program about water pollution and what
the public can do to help. The program includes advertising, special events,
displays and delivery of information in the Water Watch newsletter, which is
delivered to homes in the City.
The public can call Toronto Public Health's Beach Water Quality Hotline at
416-392-7161 or check the City's Web site at http://www.city.toronto.on.
ca/beach/index.htm for information about their local beach's daily water