Beach Water Quality

Huron Perth Public Health tests beach water for unsafe bacteria. When levels of E. coli bacteria exceed the Ministry of Health guidelines, we will advise: High bacterial results – Swimming not recommended. This is a recommendation that you shouldn't swim, or if you do swim, you're doing so at your own risk. If you swim, you could be exposed to bacteria that may cause diarrhea or infections of your ears, nose, throat, eyes, and skin.

At the beach, you might see a sign warning you to stay out of the water. Besides E. coli, signs can be posted for algae, chemical or sewage spills, or other factors. 

Is it safe to swim?

Huron Perth Public Health regularly samples the 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.

Ask yourself these questions to decide if it's safe to swim:

  • Is the water turbid (can't see my feet while standing waist deep in water)?
  • Has there been heavy rainfall in the last 24 to 48 hours?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, E. coli levels are probably high and it may be unsafe to swim. The current E.coli test is only an indicator that there was fecal contamination from either animal, human, or both, and that there could have been other harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses present in the water when the samples were collected.

Please NOTE: Even though HPPH is testing beach water at local beaches, some may be closed to the public as part of COVID-19 restrictions. Before going to a Huron or Perth County beach, it is important to check with the local municipality prior to your visit.

Known sources of E. coli in fresh water lakes are:

  • Storm drains and rivers
  • Septic systems
  • Groundwater
  • Birds
  • Domestic and wild animals
  • Swimmers
  • Environmentally adapted strains of E. coli (Edge & Hill, 2005; Gerba, 2000; Haack, Fogarty, & Wright, 2003; Jarvie et al., 2010; Kon, Weir, Howell, Lee, & Trevors, 2009)

Through myPerthHuron, you can find a full reporting of all E. coli results and environmental conditions. Real time and historical beach water data for all Huron County beaches are also available there.