"What's the water quality like at the Toronto Beaches today?"
That's what tens of thousands of people ask each and every summer. In fact there could be over a thousand people calling in to to the Toronto Beaches Water Quality Hotline on any hot sunny day.
Until recently, if you wanted to know where it's safe to go swimming in Toronto you had to call 416-392-7161 to listen to a lengthy recorded message with up-to-date beach water quality results. You still can. But the hotline was so popular, Toronto Public Health developed a free i-phone app to let people do it online, on-the-fly.
The description reads "From June to August, beaches across the city of Toronto are tested for water quality and are staffed by lifeguards. Water samples are taken daily and tested for E. coli bacteria. Toronto Public Health uses this information, along with other indicators, to assess the risk of infections resulting from swimming in the water."
This app will give you updates on beach water quality as soon as they are published, which is one day after samples are taken.
A list of supervised beaches in Toronto
A map of Toronto beaches
Daily updates of E. coli readings and swimming conditions
Past E. coli levels in beach water for the current year
Since my focus is East End Toronto, I'd just like to promote our Beaches a bit.
From June 5 to August 8, 2011, there have been only 8 days where E-coli levels have exceeded the provincially established safety level of 100 parts per million. This usually happens the day following heavy rainfall.
Though it's less than 500 m away from Kew Beach, Woodbine Beach has been safe to swim every single day this summer. In fact for most of the summer the e-coli levels have been extremely low, with the majority of the days below 20! It's also one of Canada's few 'Blue Flag' beaches.
If you're planning on spending some time at Woodbine Beach, you can rent or buy almost anything you'll need for a great beach day, right where the bus/streetcar stops. Beach towels, sunscreen, hats, sand socks, and so on. For the more adventurous you can also get Stand Up Paddleboards and accessories right at the corner of Woodbine and Queen at Beach Toyz. (1882 Queen St. E. )