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June 5, 2003
Toronto beaches ready and waiting for summer weather
  
Works and Emergency Services - The City of Toronto launched an exciting beach
season today at the annual beach testing launch. Starting this week, Toronto's
14 beaches will be lifeguarded and put to the test. Every year, the City of
Toronto's Water and Wastewater Services Division uses a boat to collect daily
samples from the beaches. The samples are analyzed by the Provincial Health Lab
and results are reviewed by Toronto Public Health. If E.coli bacteria levels
exceed 100 E.coli per 100 millilitres of water, signs warning against swimming
will be posted.

What is different and exciting about this season are some of the new projects
people will see at the beach to help improve awareness and ultimately, make our
beaches cleaner and safe for swimming.

"I'm very pleased to announce our acceptance into the Blue Flag Program," said
Mike Price, General Manager, Water and Wastewater Services. "This
internationally recognized program awards blue flags to communities committed
to maintaining high standards for water quality." In partnership with
Environmental Defence Canada, Toronto will begin the process to become
recognized under this program.

As part of the key public education requirement of the Blue Flag Program, Water
and Wastewater Services created an innovative WaterTrailer. While dispensing
cold, clean drinking water to beach-goers, the Trailer will also help raise
public awareness of water quality issues. One trailer will rotate between the
City's 14 beaches, while a second one will be created for use at other special
events around the city.

Along the same theme of raising awareness and improving safety, the Toronto
Police Marine Unit announced plans to implement a flag system at the beaches
this summer. The flag system, similar to others used internationally, will
indicate the safety level of the lake, depending on wave action, and drop-offs,
etc. A red, yellow or green flag will be held by a sandwich board that
explains the system. The sandwich boards will also be updated daily with the
water temperature, latest E.coli count and the UV index.

"Toronto Public Health supports the new educational efforts on the beach this
year and will continue to work in partnership with Works and Emergency
Services, Parks and The Marine Police Unit," said Peter Gauthier, Manager,
Healthy Environments, Toronto Public Health. "Swimming in contaminated water
can cause ear, nose and throat infections, stomach upsets, skin rashes or
diarrhea, and can be especially harmful to young children, the elderly and
those with depressed immune systems," added Gauthier. "It's important for
people to understand the risks, but also understand what they can do to help
keep the E.coli levels down."

Earlier this year, Council approved the City's Wet Weather Flow Management
Master Plan, a 25-year plan to address the effects of stormwater pollution.
The plan has an estimated cost of $40 million per year.

On a much smaller scale, residents can have a significant impact by calling the
Toronto Downspout Disconnection Program at 416-392-1807. By having their
downspouts disconnected from the city sewer system, residents decrease the
amount of stormwater entering the sewer system and help reduce the chance of
combined sewer overflows into the lake.

For information on how residents can be part of the solution to water
pollution, visit http://www.toronto.ca/water.

For locations and up to date test results, the public is encouraged to call
Toronto Public Health's Beach Water Quality Hotline at 416-392-7161 or visit
http://www.toronto.ca/beach.


Media Contact
Cheryn Gervais
Senior Communications Coordinator, Works and Emergency Services
416-392-4311

Susan Sperling
Communications Coordinator, Toronto Public Health
416-338-7974

 

 

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