Swimming Season Kicks Off at Local Beaches

Written by Communications, June 22, 2020

Public Health Inspectors Testing Water Quality Follow @Ptbohealth on Twitter for Regular Updates


The weather has warmed up kicking off swimming season at local beaches and the return of water quality testing by Peterborough Public Health (PPH).

Peterborough Public Health has begun surveillance and beach water sampling for this year’s swimming season. Public beaches in the City and County of Peterborough and Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations will be regularly tested to ensure water quality conditions are safe for recreational use.

In addition to routine sampling, we will also be confirming that public health measures to help prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 have been implemented. This will include confirming appropriate signage is in place to remind visitors about certain practices like hand hygiene and physical distancing, observing the general sanitation of washroom facilities, and ensuring that beaches are not overcrowded so that physical distancing is maintained.

Local residents can find the most recent status of public beaches at any time by visiting www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca or by calling 705-743-1000, ext. 232 during office hours. Residents are also encouraged to follow Peterborough Public Health on Twitter @Ptbohealth for beach updates throughout the summer.

The routine inspection program for all public beaches runs from mid-June until the end August. The city beaches at Rogers Cove and Beavermead Park are sampled daily, Monday to Friday, and public beaches in the county are sampled at least once a week, except for Chandos Beach, Quarry Bay Beach, White’s Beach, Belmont Lake Beach and Kasshabog Lake Beach which are sampled at least once in June, July and August.

Though Peterborough Public Health will always maintain its sampling schedule, the following factors may result in high levels of bacteria causing the beach to be unsafe for swimming between sampling periods:

  • Heavy rainfall High winds or wave activity
  • Large numbers of water fowl Large numbers of swimmers

There are several things that you can do to help ensure the water quality stays safe:

  • Do not feed waterfowl
  • Do not let children swim in soiled diapers
  • Pick up your garbage
  • Clean up after your dog

Water samples are submitted to the Peterborough Public Health Ontario Laboratory for bacteriological analysis.  They are tested for E. coli bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination in the water. It takes approximately 24 hours for Peterborough Public Health to receive and analyze the water quality results from the lab.

How to Interpret Water Quality Results:

When the results return with E. coli levels less than 200 E. coli cfu/100mL of water, the public beach is considered “safe”. When E. coli levels exceed 200 E. coli cfu/100mL of water, the public beach will be posted as “unsafe”.


This means the water is unsafe for recreational use, including swimming.  When this happens, PPH will post signs around the beach area to inform the public not to come into contact with the water as it is a potential threat to human health.

When a significant risk to human health is identified, a beach will be posted as “closed”. Beach closures are rare, and occur when there are signs of hazardous or infectious material in the water, a toxic spill, or when there is a blue-green algae bloom.

In these situations, swimming is not permitted and beach access is restricted or denied.

For a complete list and an interactive map of all the beaches that will be tested for the 2020 summer months, please visit the Beach Testing page on www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca.


For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence

Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391