On this page:
- What is recreational water?
- What does the Health Unit do?
- What are the health risks?
- What can I do to protect myself and my family?
- What legislation rules recreational water safety?
Recreational water is a body of water used for sport and leisure activities. This includes public beaches, indoor and outdoor pools, spas, waterslide basins, wading pools, and splash pads.
In the summer, health inspectors inspect the outdoor pools, splash pads, and wading pools that are open for the season and inspect indoor pools regularly throughout the year. Beaches are assessed at the beginning of the season and weekly water samples are analyzed.
Aside from physical injuries, recreational water may contain harmful micro-organisms (very small organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites) called pathogens. Pathogens in the water can cause a waterborne disease when swallowed, inhaled or when coming in contact with your skin when swimming.
Common pathogens that you may be exposed to while having fun at a recreational water facility or at the beach would be:
The best thing you can do to protect your family from waterborne illness and injuries is to educate yourself and your family. It’s important to understand what the safety requirements are for the recreational water you are swimming in and what indicates an unsafe swimming environment.
If you are interested in learning more details about recreational water quality, the Health Canada document Guidelines for Recreational Water Quality can provide additional information.
Recreational water has provincial and national regulations, guidelines, rules, and protocols to help ensure safe water while swimming.
The following links will provide you with more information on recreational water requirements:
- Ontario Public Pools Regulation 565
- Ontario Public Spas Regulation 428
- MOHLTC: Beach Management Protocol
- MOHLTC: Recreational Water Protocol
- MOHLTC: Operating Procedures for Non-regulated Recreational Water Facilities Guidance Document
For more information, please contact our Health Inspection Department at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.