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Beach Water Monitoring

Little girl playing in the water at a beach

The HKPR District Health Unit monitors beach water to ensure the safety and health of the community by detecting harmful contaminants and bacteria. Regular monitoring helps to prevent waterborne illnesses and protect the environment, allowing the public to enjoy recreational water activities with confidence.

Beach Water Monitoring

From June - August, the HKPR District Health Unit conducts regular monitoring of designated public beaches owned/operated by a municipality within the County of Haliburton, the City of Kawartha Lakes and Northumberland County to ensure the water is safe for swimming. Test results are then shared on this website (below) and shared via the our social media accounts. 

We use a three-colour coded system to report water testing results.

Red: High Risk

Indicates that a beach is closed due to elevated levels of bacteria, rendering it unsafe for swimming.

Yellow: Moderate-Risk

Based on latest test results, there are high counts of bacteria in the water. Swimming is not recommended, as it may increase your risk of developing minor skin, eye, ear, nose or throat infections or stomach illness. If you choose to swim during this advisory, avoid dunking your head or swallowing the water.

Green: Low-Risk

The beach is open and safe for swimming.

Check out the results for the HKPR District area below to ensure it’s safe for swimming before heading to the beach.

*PLEASE NOTE: Results were updated July 17, 2024.

County of Haliburton

Red High-Risk

There are no beaches in the high-risk category.

Yellow Moderate-Risk

The following beaches are moderate-risk:

Foresters Beach – Minden Hills Low-Risk

Rotary Park Lagoon – Minden Hills Low-Risk

Green Low-Risk

The following beaches are low-risk:

Bissett Beach - Minden Hills Low-Risk

Dorset Parkette – Algonquin Highlands Low-Risk

Eagle Lake Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Elvin Johnson Park – Algonquin Highlands Low-Risk

Glamour Lake Beach – Highlands East Low-Risk

Gooderham Lake Beach – Highlands East Low-Risk

Haliburton Lake Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Horseshoe Beach – Minden Hills Low-Risk

Paudash Lake Beach – Highlands East Low-Risk

Pine Lake Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Rotary Head Lake Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Rotary Park Main – Minden Hills Low-Risk

Sandy Cove Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Sandy Point Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Slipper Beach – Dysart et al Low-Risk

Twelve Mile Lake Beach – Minden Hills Low-Risk

Wilbermere Lake Beach – Highlands East Low-Risk

Beach Monitoring Results Pending

The following beaches are awaiting test results.

City of Kawartha Lakes

Red High-Risk

There are no beaches in the high-risk category.

Yellow - Moderate Risk

The following beaches are moderate-risk:

Lions Park - Coboconk Moderate-Risk

Green Low-Risk

The following beaches are low-risk:

Beach Park - Bobcaygeon Low-Risk

Birch Point – Fenelon Falls Low-Risk

Blanchards Road Beach - Bexley Low-Risk

Bond Street – Fenelon Falls Low-Risk

Burnt River Beach - Somerville Low-Risk

Centennial Park West - Eldon Low-Risk

Centennial Beach - Verulam Low-Risk

Centennial Verulam Parkette Low-Risk

Four Mile Lake Beach - Somerville Low-Risk

Head Lake Beach – Laxton Low-Risk

Omemee Beach – Emily/ Omemee Low-Risk

Riverview Beach Park - Bobycaygeon Low-Risk

Sturgeon Point Beach – Fenelon Falls Low-Risk

Valentia/ Sandbar Beach - Valentia Low-Risk

Verulam Recreational Park – Verulam Low-Risk

Beach Water Monitoring Results Pending

The following beaches are awaiting test results.

Norland Bathing Area – Laxton Results Pending

Northumberland County

Red High-Risk

There are no beaches in the high-risk category.

Yellow Moderate-Risk

The following beaches are moderate-risk:

Harwood Waterfront & Dock – Hamilton Township Moderate-Risk

Hastings Waterfront North – Trent Hills Moderate-Risk

Green Low-Risk

The following beaches are low-risk:

Caldwell Street Beach – Port Hope Low-Risk

Cobourg Victoria Park Beach - Northumberland Low-Risk

Crowe Bridge Park – Trent Hills Low-Risk

East Beach – Port Hope Low-Risk

Hastings Waterfront South – Trent Hills Low-Risk

Little Lake – Cramahe Low-Risk

Sandy Bay Beach - Alnwick-Haldimand Low Risk

West Beach – Port Hope Low-Risk

Wicklow Beach - Alnwick-Haldimand Low-Risk

Beach Water Monitoring Results Pending

The following beaches are awaiting test results.

Why is Monitoring Beach Water Important?

Contamination of recreational water poses significant health risks, including exposure to harmful bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. 

There are a number of ways that beaches can become contaminated with bacteria. Storm water runoff, combined with sewer overflows, sewage treatment plant bypasses, agricultural runoff, faulty septic systems, and large populations of waterfowl like geese all contribute to water pollution which can result in beach postings.

Beach postings are most likely to occur after rain storms or prolonged hot weather. Rain water washes fecal material from cats, dogs, birds and other wildlife into storm sewers which flow directly into nearby rivers and lakes. Prolonged hot weather conditions promote the growth of the bacteria in the water.

Water temperature also has a significant effect on bacterial levels. Shallow beaches will have warmer water and a higher potential for bacterial growth.

You can play a role in making local beaches safer to use. Here are some suggestions on how to reduce water contamination:

  • Pet owners should observe the “stoop and scoop” bylaws as domestic pet waste is a major source of bacteria in storm water.
  • Allow water from eavestroughs to discharge onto lawns. This reduces the amount of rainwater going directly into the sewer system.
  • Reduce household water use. This avoids capacity problems at sewage treatment plants that could result in untreated sewage entering lakes and rivers.
  • Fence livestock away from streams and provide them with an alternative source of water. This will benefit both the health of the herd and the environment.
  • Ensure that runoff from feedlots and manure piles are properly contained.
  • Upgrade septic systems and keep them in good working order.

Bacteria and viruses are some of the most common contaminants found in beach water. Local beach waters are tested for E. coli bacteria, which is an indicator that there is fecal contamination present from animals, humans, or both. E. coli, as well as other disease-causing organisms, can cause intestinal illness or infections of the eyes, ears, nose, or throat.

To protect yourself and your family from the health hazards of contaminated beach water, it is important to be aware of water quality conditions and avoid swimming when the water quality is poor. It is also important to take precautions such as showering after swimming, and avoiding swallowing or coming into contact with the water. If you do experience any health symptoms after swimming in beach water, please seek medical attention.

Swimmer’s itch, also called cercarial dermatitis, appears as a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain microscopic parasites that infect some birds and mammals. These parasites are released from infected snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). While the parasite’s preferred host is the specific bird or mammal, if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it burrows into the skin causing an allergic reaction and rash. Swimmer’s itch is found throughout the world and is more frequent during summer months.

Learn more about the symptoms, risk and treatment of Swimmer's Itch.

Yellow Scum (Pine Pollen)

The mustard yellow scum which may be seen in early summer on the surface of lakes and along their shorelines is a product of Mother Nature, not industry.

Environment Ontario’s Water Resources staff explain that the yellow scum, most prevalent in the month of June, floats on the surface of water or accumulates along shorelines and beaches. It is due to the presence of pine pollen or pollen from other trees and should not be mistaken for algae or an industrial waste.

In most instances, pine pollen will not be a health hazard. It will probably be blown or washed away when the wind changes direction and will eventually break down or become trapped in the sediment at the bottom of a watercourse. The condition is seasonal, and should begin to taper off in early July of any year in which it appears as a problem.


The foaming of surface waters on lakes is not a new phenomenon. It is a natural process that has been going on for a long time. All lakes contain organic matter, such as algae, rooted aquatic plants and leaves. When this organic matter decomposes, it releases cellular products to the water, which form a surfactant, or surface agent. A surfactant simply lessens the surface tension of water, making it susceptible to foaming. When the wind blows, the waves on the lake agitate this surface agent, thus transforming it into sudsy white foam.

Natural foam is most noticeable along beaches exposed to the prevailing wind direction. When the foam reaches the shoreline, it tends to form a loose line where it mixes with tiny pieces of organic matter, which act as a binding agent and give it stability.

Foam on the surface waters is a harmless by-product of our lakes. Its chemical makeup is 99% air and water, combined with 1% or less surfactant.

Need more Information?

Chat with our Environmental Health team for more information.

Phone: 1-866-888-4577 x 5006

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