Beach Water Quality

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Beach Water Quality

Water quality can change from day to day or even hour to hour depending on the weather and other conditions. Beach goers are encouraged to make an informed decision about beach water quality before swimming.

Samples are regularly taken by the Lambton Health Unit at designated public beaches for bacteria. However, due to the delay in receiving lab results, beach goers cannot rely on only lab results to know if it is safe to swim. The information below will help you predict the quality of beach water during your visit.

What Causes Water Pollution?

Storm water runoff, combined with sewer overflows, sewage treatment plant by-passes, agricultural runoff, faulty septic systems and large populations of waterfowl which colonize a beach or the surrounding area all contribute to water pollution which can result in beach postings.


Rain is the biggest factor to impact beach water quality. Rain washes contaminants into streams, rivers and lakes. While small amounts of rainfall are unlikely to have much impact, it is still advisable to avoid swimming for 24-48 hours after heavy rains.


Wind can quickly build up significant waves. Wave action on any body of water can stir up sand and silt making the water cloudy. If you can't see your feet at waist height of an adult, bacteria levels may be higher.

Wet Sand and Shallow Water

Shallow bodies of water are likely to be warmer than deeper ones during the summer. Warm temperatures are more favourable for bacterial survival or growth. Bacteria levels tend to be higher in wet sand as well. Be sure to use a hand sanitizer or wash hands after playing at water's edge.

Never swallow beach water no matter how clear the water looks!

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