Toronto, Ontario – Toronto’s 10 lifeguarded beaches are open for business today as the City of Toronto begins daily water quality sampling. In conjunction with today’s beach launch, Environmental Defence, for the second year, is presenting the City with the international Blue Flag at four beaches ( Cherry Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach, Ward’s Island Beach and Woodbine Beach).
“The City of Toronto is committed to improving beach water quality and is devoting resources for further improvements,” said Councillor Shelley Carroll, Chair of the City’s Works Committee. “A new beach management program, recently approved by City Council, includes Toronto Water; Parks, Forestry and Recreation; and Toronto Public Health working together on water quality and beach parkland improvements at the City’s 10 designated beaches.”
The program includes a range of new initiatives with a focus on Centre Island, Bluffer’s and Sunnyside beaches that have consistently had poor water quality. Testing by Environment Canada’s National Water Research Institute indicates that droppings from gulls and geese contribute to these beaches being posted unsafe for swimming.
To help improve beach water quality, the City has developed a program that includes a waterfowl and gull deterrent system; a public education campaign to encourage people to dispose of food scraps and to not feed the birds; algae harvesting; in-water and land debris clean-up; and enhanced beach grooming. These new initiatives will be implemented during the 2006 beach season.
“Environmental Defence is delighted to once again present the Blue Flags to the City of Toronto,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. “Awarding Blue Flags to four of the City’s beaches tells residents and visitors the City is working to improve beach water quality, and we look forward to awarding more Blue Flags as the City continues to implement new initiatives.”
From June until the end of August, Toronto Water collects water samples from the 10 supervised beaches across the city. Water samples are taken daily and tested for E. Coli levels and must not exceed the provincial guidelines of 100 E. Coli per 100 ml of water. When water tests show high amounts of E. Coli bacteria, Toronto Public Health warns against swimming, and signs are posted at affected beaches. Testing the samples usually takes 24 hours.
Environmental Defence co-ordinates the Blue Flag program in Canada and is responsible for monitoring the 27 criteria, including water quality, environmental management and education, and safety and service.
For more information call the City’s Beach Water Quality Hotline at 416-392-7161, or visit http://www.toronto.ca/beach.