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Beach Water Sample Results and Closures

How are the beaches tested?

Beach water sampling is conducted when the health unit is contacted with concerns regarding the water quality of one of the public beaches listed below.

A minimum of five samples are taken at each beach. The water samples are sent to the nearest accredited Ontario Public Health Lab in Thunder Bay for testing. It takes three days for the lab to receive the samples, grow the bacteria, analyze the results and send the results back to the health unit.

If bacteria levels of E.coli are higher than the Ontario Guidelines for Water Quality, a risk assessment is completed by a public health inspector to determine the possible causes of high bacteria levels. If it is determined that the health of swimmers may be at risk, then closure signs are posted and the beach water is re-sampled.

What is tested in the beach water?

The beaches are tested for E.coli levels. E.coli are tiny bacteria that are present in water but cannot be seen by the naked eye. If unsafe levels of E.coli are found in a beach water sample the beach will be closed. High levels of bacteria in the water put swimmers at risk for ear, nose, eye and/or throat irritations and gastrointestinal illness such as stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea.
Municipality/Beach ​Beach status Additional notes
​Ghost Lake​ Open
​Johnson's Open
​Sandy CLOSED As of Sept. 1, 2021
Ear Falls
Ear Falls Open
​Gold Pines Open
Fort Frances
​Pither's Point Open

Harbourage Open
Agimac Open
​West Open
Anicinabe Open
Rabbit Lake Open
Garrow Park Open
​Keewatin ​Open
​Norman ​Open
​Ottawa Street Open
​Coney Open
Lake of the Woods (township) 
Oscar Bay Open
Rainy River
​Hannam Park Open
Red Lake 
​Rahill Open ​​
​Kinsmen Open​
Sioux Lookout 
​Town Open
​2nd Sandy Open
​Hudson Open
Sioux Narrows
Bass Lake​ Open
Vermilion Bay
Kinsmen Open
Machin Open
Government Open
​Bells Open

​What causes high E.coli levels in the water?

Poor water quality can be caused by many factors. The most common are:​

  • Heavy rainfall
  • Wind action
  • Warm water temperatures
  • Water fowl (geese, gulls, ducks)
  • Storm water outflows
  • Septic system discharges

The health unit recommends that people avoid swimming for 48 hours after a heavy rainfall​ and/or high winds to avoid being in water that could have high levels of bacteria.

When are public beaches closed?

Beaches that have been found to have contaminated water will be closed for water activities. When a beach has been closed, re-sampling will occur immediately and the beach will remain closed until the water quality has recovered.​

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