Health Information

Beach Water Quality Surveillance

Lambton Public Health conducts monitoring and reporting for beach water quality at 7 locations in Lambton County.

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2024 Beach Water Program

During the summer months, Lambton Public Health monitors beach water quality at designated public beaches in Lambton County. Seven public beaches along the shore of Lake Huron are monitored during beach season. Beaches are posted with warning signs when levels of E. coli bacteria are estimated to exceed the Ministry of Health guidelines.  

During periods when high levels of bacteria are estimated, Lambton Public Health posts warning signs at the beach advising residents the water is unsafe for swimming. High levels of bacteria in the water can cause skin, ear, eye, nose, and throat infections as well as stomach disorders. When the bacterial levels in the water return to an acceptable level for swimming, the signs are removed.

Weather and other environmental factors affect the water quality at our beaches. We do not recommend swimming at beaches if it has rained heavily in the last two days. Heavy rains can wash bacteria, chemicals, and even garbage into the water which may be a risk to your health. 

Monitoring of beaches in Lambton County will begin on June 17, 2024.

Beach Status

Check the beach water quality status before you head out to the beach.

  • Text keyword: BEACH to 226-909-3003
  • View the map of beach locations and inspection results
  • Call the Beach Info Line: 519-383-3816, toll-free 1-800-667-1839 ext. 3816
  • View signs at the inspected beach location entry points

A beach’s status will be indicated in one of two ways:

  • Posted – WARNING sign displayed. Unsafe for swimming as high levels of bacteria in the waters may pose a risk to your health.
  • Not posted – CAUTION sign displayed. No water quality issues but continue to monitor for changes. Cloudy water caused by high wave activity and heavy rainfall may contain high levels of bacteria.

Understanding Beach Water Quality

The posting status for each beach (posted vs. not posted) reflects the conditions at the time of the assessment only.  Water quality can change from day to day or even hour by hour depending on the weather and other conditions.

While Lambton Public Health regularly monitors designated public beaches for bacteria, conditions that affect beach water quality can change frequently. As such, beach goers are encouraged to make an informed decision about beach water quality in real time before swimming by assessing the following factors, regardless of the beach posting status:

Rain is a large factor in impacting beach water quality. Rain washes contaminants into streams, rivers, and lakes. While small amounts of rainfall are unlikely to have much impact, swimming should be avoided for 24-48 hours after heavy rains.

Wind can cause increased wave activity. Wave action on any body of water can stir up sand and silt making the water cloudy. If you can’t see your feet standing waist deep in water, bacteria levels may be high.

Waterfowl (gulls, geese, etc.)
In some smaller bodies of water, or more confined areas of large lakes, the feces of waterfowl can impact water quality causing an increase in bacteria.

Wet Sand and Shallow Water
Shallow bodies of water are likely to be warmer and bacteria can increase quickly in warm temperatures.  Bacteria levels tend to be higher in wet sand as well. Be sure to use a hand sanitizer or wash hands if washrooms are available after playing at water’s edge.

Beaches may also be unsafe due to excessive weed growth, oil, floating debris, turbidity and Blue-green Algae Blooms. In addition to water sampling, we conduct observational safety assessments as part of our summer beach program.

Is it Safe to Swim?

Beach goers are encouraged to make an informed decision about beach water quality in real time before swimming.  You are the best judge of whether the water is safe to swim!

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

  • Is the beach posted with a warning sign?
  • Has there been a heavy rainfall in the last 24 to 48 hours?
  • Have conditions been windy and wavy in the last 24 to 48 hours?
  • Are there any other problems with the beach such as many waterfowl, dead fish, algae/scum, or dangerous debris?
  • Is the water so cloudy that you cannot see your feet at adult waist depth?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, bacteria levels are probably high, and you should not swim. Avoid swallowing beach water no matter how clear the water looks.

Beach Locations

Beaches monitored daily (Monday-Friday) using predictive models:

  • Grand Bend (North Beach)
  • Grand Bend (South Beach)
  • Ipperwash Main Beach
  • Bright’s Grove (including Mike Weir Park)
  • Canatara Park

Beaches monitored weekly (water sampling with lab analysis):

  • Pinery Provincial Park
  • C.J. McEwen Beach

No sampling occurs along the St. Clair River; however, a caution sign, advising of high bacteria levels following heavy rainfall, has been permanently placed at:

  • Branton Cundick Park
  • Brander Park
  • Seager Park