Beach Water Quality

There are a lot of health and wellness benefits to visiting one of the many beautiful beaches located within Chatham-Kent. However, there is a risk of injury or illness resulting from recreational use if the water contains high levels of E. Coli bacteria. Water quality can change from day to day or even hour to hour depending on the weather and other conditions.

Beach goers are encouraged to make an informed decision about beach quality in real time before you go swimming. YOU are the best judge of whether the water is safe.

Should I Go Swimming at the Beach?

So how should you know if it’s safe to go swimming at the beach? We recommend answering these four questions before you head out for your next beach adventure.

Has there been a heavy rainfall in the last 24-48 hours?

If yes, do NOT swim

Have conditions been really windy and wavy in the last 24-48 hours?

If yes, do NOT swim

Are there any other problems with the beach such as a large number of waterfowl, dead fish, algea/scum, or dangerous debris?

If yes, do NOT swim

Is the water so cloudy that you cannot see your feet at adult waist depth?

If yes, do NOT swim

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, you should NOT swim. The water may have high levels of bacteria that could increase the risk of skin, eye, ear, nose and throat infections or gastrointestinal illness. Avoid swallowing beach water not matter how clear it is!

Remember you should never swim during a thunderstorm or when there are high winds and waves. For more beach safety tips, go to the Canadian Red Cross

Beach Water Testing

Every summer between June and September, we collect water samples from public beaches within Chatham-Kent. We test the water for the presence of E. Coli bacteria. The presence of high levels of E. Coli in beach water is a sign that the water may contain other harmful germs as well.

2024 Beach Surveillance will resume in June.

Beach Signs

CK Public Health permanently posts advisory signs at all public beaches in CK warning that high levels of bacteria are often found in beach water and to use caution when swimming.
CK Public Health will post beach closure signs when significant risk to health and safety has been identified.

When is a Beach Closed?

Beach closures are rare. Reasons a beach may be closed include:

  • Chemical, oil, sewage or other waste spill
  • Blue-green algae bloom (click here for more information)
  • Fish or other wildlife die-off
  • Safety hazards, such as sharp objects

Report a Concern

If you think you have gotten sick because of beach water, see your health care provider.

You can always report concerns about beach water safety to CK Public Health. A Public Health Inspector will follow-up with you.