Growing concerns for Lake Ontario water quality after dismal testing results at the beach

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about the high levels of E. coli in the water at Ontario Place. Some swimmers are becoming reluctant to swim in the water or find other places to swim. As a group of swimmers who regularly enjoy swimming at Ontario Place Beach (TeachBeach), this is very concerning to us. 

The water is usually crystal-clear at the pebble beach, it is important to note that E. coli is not visible. This picture was taken on June 5th, 2022.

This sentiment is also shared by Isabel from Swim Drink Fish, a nonprofit organization that tests the water quality twice per week. 

Here is a comment from Isabel...

It's really sad to see the poor water quality results this year after awesome water quality results last summer. The water quality results we're seeing now- so far a 22% pass rate for the 2022 season- actually reflect the water quality results of 2020, where there was a 34% pass rate based on 18 samples over the summer. in 2019 and 2021 the pass rates were 84% and 85% respectively- results that are on par with Blue Flag beaches.

We're currently in the process of continuing to collect sampling results so that we have a better understanding of water quality at the site. We've also expanded our monitoring to the west side of the island. This is where we've seen extremely poor water quality results. On the west side of the site off the break wall facing south, we've also collected photo evidence of pollution entering the water from the area (see the below pictures). This includes sewage debris like condoms and tampon applicators. We have photos from multiple occasions during wet and dry weather. 

We can't make any conclusions as to what's going on here quite yet and need to continue collecting this evidence and investigating the situation. What I can say, is that it's so so important that we continue sampling and advocating for our waters. The situation developing here underscores the value of testing the water.

What are the latest testing results from the Ontario Place West Island Beach?


The data below for samples taken Tuesday, July 5th, 2022. This data is provided by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper. It is currently failing to meet the standards for safe swimming 69% of the time.

Sampling LocationE.coli count MPN/100mlGeometric Mean for all sites (E. coli)

Is there a sewage pipe leak near Ontario Place?

Many swimmers are concerned about E coli levels being close to 25 times over the safe limit. It also seems that the levels fluctuate quite a lot. We do not know why, and it seems more research needs to be done to ensure we can protect the ecosystem. Here is a comment from another swimmer...

A blue flag beach fails water quality tests when ecoli is at 100 mpn/100ml. The current testing at Ontario Place West Island shows all 5 test sites at over 900 with the highest at 2419.6; the average of the 5 test sites being 1351.2. I heard that there is a sewage pipe leak and with those numbers, I don't doubt that.

Visible signs of water pollution from a Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO)

Raw sewage or garbage at Ontario Place

What can we do to improve the water quality?

There are several things that can be done to safeguard ourselves and our waters:

Participate in water quality testing

Join Swim Drink Fish for sampling at the beach who are there at 8:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Contact your member of parliament

Email your MPP for Spadina Fort-York, Chris Glover who has visited the OP beach for a beach cleanup event in the spring of 2022. The current premier of Ontario could also be contacted, although does not usually respond for comment and is known to not be considerate of environmental issues. Making elected politicians aware of our concerns for water quality is important and can really help. 

Share your pictures, ideas, research, and contribute

The more evidence we have of people using the water, the stronger there is a case to protect it. If TeachBeach at Ontario Place is an important beach to you, please share why so we can help keep it swimmable. You can share why the beach is important to you via the Watermark project here

This website ( is built on a Google Blog and anyone with a Google account can submit photos and articles about swimming. Even if you don't have a Google account, I can provide you with a short, personal email address to attach and send a photo to, that will automatically publish a photo or article on this blog. If you do have a Google account, you can download the mobile app android or access it via Please reach out to Perry or Steve to request access. 

We also have an active Facebook group where you can share pictures, ideas, and discuss topics like this. 

Another swimmer has recently created a Discord server for SwimOP to experiment with this alternative social networking site:

Sewers in Australia are fitted with grills that act as a filter for unwanted objects that don't belong in a lake. 

Participate in cleanup

This can be as simple as picking up a plastic bottle. I sometimes collect garbage and objects that do not belong in our lake from the water and shoreline. When I see others doing the same thing, it reminds me and encourages the same behavior in myself. 

We often remove rebar like from swimming areas to ensure safe swimming for all. Photo was taken on June 11th, 2022. 

We have a wonderful community of people that regularly visit the beach. I do not know of any other pebble beaches in the region. This naturally occurring beach deserves to be better protected. Please share this post and any feedback or ideas with us. 

Perry Toone

Perry, the founder of Thexyz and Curious Penguins, is an open water swimmer and an open-source software enthusiast. He develops privacy-respecting software, fuelled by a passion for digital privacy and high security standards.

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