Each beach in Swim Guide appears on the map with a red/green/yellow/ or grey pin. The coloured pins represents its water quality status.
During swim season, the pin will reflect a beach’s CURRENT water quality. When current water quality information is not available, the pin will reflect the beach’s HISTORICAL water quality average. If there are SPECIAL circumstances at a swim site, such long term water quality alerts or construction, the beach’s pin will alert you to this special status.
When a beach or swim site has a CURRENT status, it’s swimming season! The water quality information is current, usually from test results from within the last seven days.
Swim Guide only uses red, green, or grey pins to describe a beach’s current status (there is no yellow). GREEN is for acceptable water quality and RED is for water quality you should avoid.
A beach has a GREEN current status in Swim Guide when it has passed the most recent water quality test. This means that bacteria levels have met the applicable water quality standard for that area.
A beach has a RED current status in Swim Guide when it has failed the most recent water quality test. Elevated bacteria detected at this swim site means there is an increased chance you could contract an infection or illness.
A beach has a GREY status in Swim Guide when water quality information is not reliable, unavailable, or older than seven days. In other words if Swim Guide cannot accurately determine the water quality at this beach, we let you know that we don’t know its current status.
You can always find out more about a the applicable local water quality standards by looking in the SOURCE section on each beach in Swim Guide. Source explains where data for that beach comes from and what water quality standards apply.
Read more about recreational water quality standards here.
When swimming season is over, or when a beach’s water quality data has not been updated, the swim site will go into HISTORICAL status mode. You’ll see an average water quality rating based on test results from the last year.
A GREEN historical status means the beach passed water quality tests 95% of the time or more during the monitoring season. This is the hallmark of a clean beach, meaning only one or two postings occur per summer and the beach almost always meets water quality standards.
A YELLOW historical status means the beach passed water quality tests 60-94% of the time during the swimming season. Yellow means that a beach usually meets water quality standards, but not always, so you should proceed with caution.
A RED historical status means the beach met water quality standards 0-59% of the time during the swimming season. In other words, water quality tests failed almost as often as they passed. These beaches have poor water quality history and your chances of contracting illnesses are likely higher.
A beach can also be given a special status. We may manually set the status for a specific beach if we have concerns about the sampling protocol, if there is an emergency, if monitoring programs don’t exist, if the beach has a long-lasting closure that is unrelated to routine sampling results, or other reasons that render this site “special”.
A GREEN special status means the beach has historically excellent or pristine water quality, but there is no current data. This status is rarely used, as substantial water quality records are need to prove a site warrants this status.
A beach is given a RED special status when there is a heavy rain event or a sewage bypass as a precaution against the contamination that is expected or that is trending upwards. Other reasons that warrant a RED special status include when there are chronic water quality issues at the swim site or when there is a spill. This is often used in emergencies, when sample results are not yet available, or when non-bacteria related contaminants may pose a threat to your health and happiness in the water.
A GREY special status means there is no water quality information available, the beach is under construction, or there has been an event that has rendered water quality information unreliable or unavailable. We use this pin often for sites where there is no water quality monitoring program but people still use or visit the shore.
Swim Guide shares the best information we have at the moment you ask for it. Always obey signs at the beach or advisories from official government agencies. Stay alert and check for other swimming hazards such as dangerous currents and tides. Please report your pollution concerns so Affiliates can help keep other beach-goers safe. Swim Guide, "Swim Drink Fish icons," and associated trademarks are owned by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper.| See Legal.
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