Two weeks ago, we published the second annual Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Beach Report.

While the results showed an overall improvement,Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River beaches met water quality standards more often in 2015,we also want to give recreational water users a closer look at their beaches. A naughty and nice list, so to speak.

Which beaches met recreational water quality standards more frequently? On the opposite end, which beaches frequently failed?

Because water quality data is still in the process of improving, after reading the list, please consider the important notes that follow as well.

Without further ado, here are the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence best and worst beaches in 2015. Did your local beach make the top 5?

Lake Superior

Best Beaches


  1. Lafayette Community Club Duluth, Minnesota
  2. Bayview CampgroundBay Mills, Michigan
  3. Pig Pine Day Use AreaBay Mills, Michigan
  4. Marquette South BeachMarquette, Michigan
  5. McCarty’s CoveMarquette, Michigan

Worst Beaches


  1. Sunnyside – BoulevardThunder Bay, Ontario
  2. Wisconsin Point 3 Itasca, Wisconsin
  3. Barker’s Island Inner Beach Superior, Wisconsin
  4. Wisconsin Point 2 Itasca, Wisconsin
  5. Wisconsin Point 1 Itasca, Wisconsin

Lake Michigan

Best Beaches


  1. Central Beach– Michigan City, Indiana
  2. Dunbar BeachMichigan City, Indiana
  3. Kemil BeachMichigan City, Indiana
  4. Lake View BeachMichigan City, Indiana
  5. West Beach – Indiana DunesMichigan City, Indiana

Worst Beaches


  1. South ShoreMilwaukee, Wisconsin
  2. Buffington Harbor BeachEast Chicago, Indiana
  3. Jeorse Park Beach 1East Chicago, Indiana
  4. Jeorse Park Beach 2East Chicago, Indiana
  5. McKinley Beach Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Lake Huron

Best Beaches


  1. Blair Street ParkAlpena, Michigan
  2. Bryant Park BeachTraverse City, Michigan
  3. Burtchville Township ParkNorth Lakeport, Michigan
  4. Caseville County ParkCaseville Township, Michigan
  5. Cheboygan City Park City of Cheboygan, Michigan

Worst Beaches


  1. Kalmo BeachVal Caron, Ontario
  2. Amphitheatre BeachSudbury, Ontario
  3. Moonlight BeachSudbury, Ontario
  4. Bell Grove BeachSudbury, Ontario
  5. Canoe Club BeachSudbury, Ontario

Lake Erie

Best Beaches


  1. Kelleys IslandKelleys Island, Ohio
  2. Port Bruce Provincial ParkPort Bruce, Ontario
  3. Rock PointDunnville, Ontario
  4. Long Point Provincial Park – Old Park BeachPort Rowan, Ontario
  5. Long Point Provincial Park – New Park BeachPort Rowan, Ontario

Worst Beaches


  1. West Belle River BeachBelle River, Ontario
  2. LakeviewLorain, Ohio
  3. Miller BeachAvon Lake, Ohio
  4. Villa AngelaCleveland, Ohio
  5. Edson CreekVermilion, Ohio

Lake Ontario

Best Beaches


  1. Darien LakeDarien, New York
  2. Cedardale – Brighton, Ontario
  3. Brennan’s Beach – Pulaski, New York
  4. Victoria – Cobourg, Ontario
  5. Keuka LakeKeuka Park, New York

Worst Beaches


  1. Camp Kenan BeachBarker, New York
  2. Niagara Lazy Lakes CampgroundLockport, New York
  3. Pier 4 – Hamilton, Ontario
  4. Bayfront – Hamilton, Ontario
  5. Jones Beach – St. Catharines, Ontario

St. Lawrence River

Best Beaches


  1. Wilson’s BayCape Vincent, New York
  2. Potter’s BeachGrindstone Island, New York
  3. Frink Dock at Frink ParkClayton, New York
  4. Lake of the IslesWellesley Island, New York
  5. Parc des CèdresAylmer, Quebec

Worst Beaches


  1. Parc Riverside ParkCarleton Place, Ontario
  2. Parc Centennial Park (The Catwalk)Petawawa, Ontario
  3. Parc Island Park – Alexandria, Ontario
  4. Parc Riverside ParkPembroke, Ontario
  5. Plage Cobden BeachCobden, Ontario

Top 5 lists are great but it’s important to keep in mind that currently, available water quality data isn’t completely accurate. For this reason, please consider the following notes.

Important Notes

  • It’s a good thing when municipalities report beach water quality problems.Regions that report poor water quality days do a better job protecting public health and raising awareness for infrastructure needs. We applaud the regions that continue to monitor vulnerable waters and honestly report data to the public.
  • Water quality “no data” days were not considered.For instance, there are regions where daily testing is not conducted following a heavy rainfall and where monitoring authorities re-sample until they “pass” water quality standards.
  • Freshwater recreational water quality standards focus on bacteria levels.“Standards” are limits set by official agencies – usually governments – based on the advice of scientists. Other water quality concerns found in freshwater such as radiation, mercury, cyanobacteria (bluegreen algae), and viruses are not ignored but are more challenging to standardize across regions.
  • Recreational water quality standards vary depending on the region.The US rec water quality standard is 126 counts of E. coli per 100 mL, whereas Ontario standards are 100 counts of E. coli.
  • Monitoring frequency varies.During the swimming season, Toronto beaches are sampled daily but beaches in Sudbury are sampled weekly. There are also regions that only monitor once a month and cherry-pick the best results. With that being said, there could be beaches that had worse water quality results. Unfortunately, these results are unknown to the public.
  • All of the best beaches were open for swimming 100% of the summer.However, there were more than 5 beaches for each region that met recreational water quality standards 100% of the time. Therefore, the total number of days open, as well as monitoring frequency were also taken into account when selecting the top five beaches.

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