Photo credit: Kevin Plastow

Beach water quality reports

Natural bodies of water can be great venues for relaxation and recreation. However, swimming in these areas is not risk-free. Natural water bodies always have a level of contamination from various sources.

The conditions and quality of the water can change quickly due to a number of environmental factors. There is always a risk of harmful contaminants and anyone can become ill from swimming in open water. Beach users are advised to follow personal safety precautions.

Beach owners/operators are responsible for monitoring the beaches throughout the swimming season to determine compliance with the Canadian Recreational Water Quality Guidelines

The guidelines recommend beach water be monitored for the presence of E. coli using two limits; a geometric mean of ≤ 200 E. coli/100 mL based on the previous five samples and a single sample limit of ≤ 400 E. coli/100 mL. When either of these limits is exceeded an assessment will be made and the beach operators may be required to post a notice at the beach, indicating “No Swimming”.

Current beach status

The map below shows the status of each monitored beach in the Fraser Health region. Click on the beach icon to see its status and sampling site location map.

Note:

Beach icons and current advisories are based on the most up to date information. Beach water quality is always changing, and sample results do not reflect real-time water quality.

Beach icons and current advisories are updated throughout the weekend but geometric means and routine sample result reports may be delayed.

 

Please visit Vancouver Coastal Health for other beaches in Metro Vancouver. 

Map Legend 

  Open to swimming
  Open to swimming - not regularly sampled
  Open to swimming - resampling in progress at one or more sites
 advisory Not suitable for swimming - advisory in effect 
  Not suitable for swimming - reference site only 
  No swimming - beach closed

Current advisories in effect

Date posted
Beach name
Reason for advisory
Standard

No current advisories in effect

Frequently asked questions

  • How can I protect myself when swimming at the beach?

    • Avoid swallowing water
    • Avoid swimming with an open cut or wound
    • Avoid swimming for 48 hours after a significant rainfall
    • Avoid swimming in murky/turbid water
    • Stay away from the water if you are experiencing digestive or intestinal problems
    • After swimming, wash your hands before handling food
  • What should I do after swimming beach water?

    After swimming, rinse off well using soap and clean water, paying special attention to any cuts or scrapes. Dry out your ears.

    If you believe you have been exposed to contaminated water, take a shower and wash swimsuits, towels and other clothing that might have been contaminated as soon as possible. If you start to feel sick, seek medical attention. Tell your doctor that you think you were exposed to contaminated water, and contact your local health authority to report your illness.

  • How is recreational water sampling conducted?

    Beach owners/operators should routinely test beach water quality during the swimming season from April to September. Most beaches are tested on a weekly basis, however, remote beaches are not always able to meet this recommended frequency.

    Sampling is done at the same general location each time, but the time of day and day of the week can vary to allow for a better picture of water quality at the sampling location. Sampling provides a “snapshot” of the water quality at a specific point in time at a specific location. It helps give a broad indication of the overall water quality at a location, but is not a definitive statement of the entire body of water.

  • Who does the sampling and testing?

    Beach owners/operators are responsible for collecting their own water samples but may make arrangements for others to do so. In the lower mainland, Metro Vancouver performs the sampling for the beach operators. Samples are sent to an approved laboratory for analysis of E. Coli. Fraser Health reviews the results and then posts on this website

  • What is E. Coli?

    E. coli, a bacterium that is commonly present in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals and humans.

  • What does it mean when there is E. coli counts are high?

    E. coli is an indicator of fecal contamination of the recreational water, which contains disease-causing bacteria. High counts of E. coli in recreational water may increase the chances of gastrointestinal, upper respiratory illnesses and skin/eye infections.

  • What does “resampling in progress” mean?

    When the single sample limit of ≤400 E. coli/100mL is exceeded, a resample protocol is initiated. The beach operator will be requested to take the re‐sample as soon as possible. The beach will remain open to swimming until results are confirmed.

  • What happens when the E. coli counts exceed limits

     advisory

    The Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality recommends the use of two limits for E. coli; a geometric mean of ≤ 200 E. coli /100 mL based on the previous five samples and a single sample limit of ≤ 400 E. coli /100 mL. When either of these limits is exceeded, an assessment will be made to determine next steps. In the case of a single sample exceedance, the first step will be to re‐sample. Should results remain high, beach operators may be required to post a notice at the beach, “No Swimming”, which includes all primary contact recreation activities.

  • I am swimming at a beach with no signs posted indicating poor water quality, so is it 100% safe to swim at this beach?

    For the most part, the recreational water in British Columbia does not pose a health risk. However, there is always some level of risk when swimming in untreated recreational waters; natural bodies of water are not treated to remove bacteria, not sampled daily and there is delay between the sampling time and the results. Other factors that can impact water quality include animal activity (e.g. geese), rainfall, hot temperatures and frequency of use.

    In order to minimize risk while swimming in recreational waters, one should avoid ingestion of water.

  • What does it mean when a “No Swimming” advisory is posted at a beach?

    The level of E. coli bacteria found in the water is above the recommended guidelines. When the level of bacteria is higher there is an increased risk of illness to swimmers. The public is advised not to swim or wade in the water until the advisory is removed. Seniors, infants and children and people with weakened immunity are the most vulnerable.

  • I have gone swimming and I now notice a “No Swimming” advisory has been posted. Am I at risk and what should I do?

    Since sampling only provides a “snapshot” of the water quality, doing activities within recreational water before a posted beach closure does not necessarily mean you will get sick. However, if you experience signs of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, ear infection, sore throat or wound infection after swimming in recreational water, we recommend that you seek medical attention.

  • Will I get sick if I go into water that is under advisory?

    There is no way to say for sure whether or not you will get sick if you go into water that is under advisory, but you will have a higher chance of getting sick. The risk of getting sick is higher if you swallow water or get water in the nose, eyes, ears or an open wound. Examples of possible illness include stomach upset, ear infection, sore throat or wound infection.

  • When does an advisory end?

    When follow-up testing shows that beach water quality has returned to an acceptable level, advisory will be removed. Beach operators will be notified that the beach is suitable for swimming. Signage will be removed from beaches and results will be updated online on this webpage.

  • What is the source of the E. coli contamination?

    There are many possible sources of E. coli contamination. Storm water runoff into recreational water sites can include contamination from animal waste, recreational vehicles and sewer overflows. Other possible sources are leaking septic tanks and discharge from boats. Heavy rain is often a factor contributing to poor beach water quality. Bacteria levels can be elevated after heavy rainfall and people are advised to avoid swimming at the beach for at least 48 hours.

  • What is primary contact recreation?

    Swimming, paddle boarding, surfing or any activity in which the whole body can be immersed and water will likely be swallowed.

  • What is secondary contact recreation?

    Activities that result in regular wetting of limbs but swallowing of water is not usual. Such activities include canoeing, kayaking, sailing and fishing.

  • What is the risk from secondary recreational water activities?

    The level of E. coli contamination at which health risks occur from secondary contact recreation activities is unclear. Caution should be taken to avoid swallowing water. Afterward such activities, wash with soap and clean water particularly prior to eating.

  • Why are beaches closed?

    Beach closures are different from water quality advisories; the following are examples of events that could lead to closure of the beach:

    • Chemical, oil, sewage or other waste spills,

    • Waste water treatment plant bypasses,

    • Red tides or blue green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms,

    • Fish or other wildlife die‐off at the beach,

    • Visible debris, metal or sharp objects found in the water or beach area.

    No one should swim at a beach that has been closed.

  • What does geometric mean and single sample represent?

    • Geometric mean is used to calculate the average concentration of E. coli based on the water samples collected over a period of time.
    • A single sample is the concentration of E. coli at a particular point in time.
    • The single sample limit will alert any immediate water quality issues and the geometric mean will alert any chronic contamination problems.
    • Using both values will give a better evaluation of the water quality both in the short term and over the duration of the swimming season.
  • Why do some beaches not have a geometric mean?

    The number of samples collected by the beach operator is not sufficient to calculate a geometric mean. The beach remains open based on the available sample results.

  • Why is a beach missing from the map?

    Beaches that are not routinely sampled are not shown on the map.

  • Where can I find beach water quality information for my local beach?

    Beach water quality reports are posted online here. E. coli counts for local beaches will be updated as results become available.

For more information related to a specific beach, please contact your local Environmental Health Officer or Public Health Unit.

Visit the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality for further information related to recreational water quality.

Beach reports

Only beaches that have as a geometric mean will be listed. The geometric mean is a calculation that is based on a minimum of five samples. If a beach is not listed below, it means that the beach is not routinely sampled, or less than five samples have been submitted this season.

Need more information or have feedback for the beach water website?

If you have feedback or have other questions, please contact: feedback@fraserhealth.ca.