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May 29, 2002
City's Beaches begin summer testing
  
Works & Emergency Services - Beginning on Monday, June 3, Toronto's 14
beaches staffed with lifeguards will be put to the test. The Environmental
Services Unit of Works and Emergency Services uses a boat to collect daily
samples from the various beaches. A Provincial Health Lab tests the water
samples for E. coli bacteria. The results of these tests are reviewed by Public
Health who determines whether to post the beaches safe or unsafe for swimming.

This summer will be the second year the City will test beaches daily. This
rigorous schedule is one example of Toronto's vigilance when it comes to beach
testing and the safety of our water. In Toronto, Public Health will post a
beach unsafe for swimming when the E. coli count exceeds 100 E. coli per 100
millilitres of water. In comparison, the federal government's guideline is 200
E. coli per 100 millilitres and in the United States, 11 states use E. coli
counts at 126 per 100 millilitres as a guideline for posting.

"In addition to the City's vigilance with our testing program and posting
criteria, we've undertaken several major works to improve the quality of the
water at our beaches," said Mike Price, General Manager, Water and Wastewater
Services. "The eastern beaches have benefited from two underground detention
tanks, and the Western Beaches Tunnel will be officially opened in June. These
two projects, combined with the long-term strategies to be identified in the
Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan, should get us closer to our goal of
keeping the water safe for swimming more often," added Price.

"Swimming in contaminated water can cause ear, nose and throat infections,
stomach upsets, skin rashes or diarrhea," said Peter Gauthier, Manager, Healthy
Environments, Toronto Public Health. "Young children, the elderly and those who
are chronically ill or have depressed immune systems may be more susceptible to
infection from swimming in contaminated water," added Gauthier.

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 check
the City's Web site at: http://www.city.toronto.on.ca/beach.

Media contacts:
Cheryn Gervais, Senior Communications Coordinator, Works & Emergency Services
416-392-4311
Anita Zutis, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7878


Media Contact
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