, Swim Guide Editor
Posted: December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

December 2, 2015 – Toronto, Ontario – Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River beach water quality met government standards 76.5% of the time in 2015, says a new report from Swim Guide ( This is an improvement over 2014, when water quality met standards 72.5% of the summer.

The results come from Swim Guide, the web’s most comprehensive beach water quality service. Swim Guide compared monitoring results for 1,496 beaches around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and calculated the number of days beaches in each watershed passed water quality tests, failed water quality tests, or had no data. The findings published in the second annual Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Beach Report.

The biggest change between 2014 and 2015 was the decrease in days when no water quality information was available. In 2014, water quality data was not available for 20% of the summer. 2015 saw a significant improvement, with the number of “no data” days dropping to 13.8%. That’s a sign that more water quality information is being released to the public more often.

On Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, beaches met water quality standards more often. There were significantly fewer “no data” days.

On Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the St. Lawrence River, beaches met water quality standards less often in 2015 than in 2014. There were more days this year when water quality was not available.

The 2015 beach report also includes a list of the five most-popular beaches on each lake. It is available online at (infographic).

Key Stats and Trends

  • There are 1496 beaches in Swim Guide located in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River watershed.
  • Beach water quality met government standards 76.5% of the summer (compared to 72.5% in 2014).
  • Beach water quality failed to meet government standards 9.67% of the summer (compared to 8.5% in 2014).
  • Water quality information was unavailable or unreliable 13.83% of the summer (compared to 20% in 2014).
  • In 2015, Swim Guide grew by 225,000 individual users and added 471 more beaches in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Basin.


“A swimmable Great Lakes system is one where more beaches are sampled more frequently and meet standards more often than ever before. We aren’t there yet, but we are getting closer.” – Mark Mattson, Waterkeeper & Swim Guide spokesperson.

Swim Guide is a beach information service created by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper in Toronto. With over 560,000 all-time users, it offers water quality alerts, beach descriptions, photos, and directions for over 7,000 beaches in Canada, the U.S.A., as well as Baja Mexico, and New Zealand. More information:

2015 Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Beach Report (Infographic)


Chloe Cross
Swim Guide Program Manager
(416) 861-1237

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* The RBC Foundation

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