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Cleanliness of water/lakes etc. in the Ontario region

Discussion in 'Settlement Issues' started by mira_johnson, Jul 6, 2019.

  1. Hi guys,
    My first impression of Canada as a country is full of nature and beautiful clear and clean lakes. However, I must admit this is not what I am seeing and reading when it comes to Ontario and even parts of Quebec and I am curious to hear your opinion/experiences about it.
    I am a water-loving person at heart, love to swim in the water and other water activities such as water-paddling, etc. First of all, I was positively surprised to learn how many beautiful beaches that exist in the Ontario region. However, in and around Toronto I am seeing rivers a majority which are brown in colour, many which at some point in the past have tested poor water quality, and then lake Ontario, which may look clear but has the reputation of "lake of shame" with one of the poorest water qualities of all of the Great Lakes. Then it's the St Lawrence river which I don't know a whole lot about other than that huge ships passing through in large numbers during the spring-summer-fall season, and plant businesses occasionally dumping large quantities of pollution in the water, I also learnt that the problem of pollution in that river reaches as far as Quebec city. So far, Huron and Superior lakes are the lakes that I think I know are clean, clear and beautiful. For the rest, I am feeling slightly under the mood reading about.
    The other thing I am slightly worried about is the drinking water quality. If lake Ontario is so bad, and all Torontians get their drinking water from Lake Ontario, then how can anyone claim that this drinking water is of good quality?

    Any thoughts, opinions?
  2. The drinking water is thoroughly tested. Unless you live in a very small town then I’d do a bit of research on the water treatment centre in Your area.

    The colour of the water depends on depth, sediments, etc. You won’t find clear blue water in most of the world. Not sure anyone would ever consider swimming in the St Lawrence. It is a major shipping channel plus I believe some sewage is sometimes deposited into the river. It is not really advertised as somewhere to swim. Have you looked at the thousands of other lakes all over Quebec and Ontario? You can swim in Lake Ontario. All depends on where you are in the lake and whether the water is fast moving there and not stagnant. The city does water testing in the summer. The water is very cold until July August when the warm water comes to the surface and the cold water goes to the bottom. Nobody should swim downstream of a factory or next to major shipping areas. In general if you want to swim in lakes stay out of large cities and major shipping channels.
  3. You can sit on Toronto beaches, but I wouldn't recommend going into the water. I certainly never have and never would. Lake Ontario waters in Toronto aren't clean enough for swimming. They haven't been clean enough for decades now. If you want to swim in a lake, you'll need to jump in a car and head out to cottage country. Water sports such as sailing, etc. are fine to do in Toronto. It's just not clean enough for swimming.

    Drinking water is treated. It obviously doesn't just come straight from the source to your tap. The drinking water is fine.
  4. Have done a little swimming in Lake Ontario way off Cherry Beach. I survived although it is fast moving water out there.

    There are tons of bodies of water in Canada. Avoid the largest ones for swimming. Most of them are freezing anyways so there is a very limited swimming season in Canada.
    bringiton likes this.
  5. You are braver than I am.

    Agreed the big ones are freezing - even in mid summer. Lots of other nice onces just a short drive away from Toronto.
  6. #6 mira_johnson, Jul 7, 2019 at 5:45 AM
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
    Thanks its like I said, I don't know much about the St Lawrence river so your info is helpful. However isn't the tourist destination The Thousand Islands in the St Lawrence river?? I saw many touristic advertisements claiming that it is highly recommended to go swimming there as the waters are so clear and clean, possibly just fake marketing...(??) Also I was perhaps hoping the shipping part of the river called the St Lawrence seaport was somehow slightly separated from the "real" river, not the case? I am used to the ocean where I am from, so the St Lawrence river leading out into the ocean sounded slightly exotic to me until I read about all the shipping activity etc.
    As far as I'm concerned, there aren't that many clean lakes close to Toronto apart from Lake Huron, Lake Simcoe? Charleston lake? Can you recommend other lakes in Ontario within 3-4 hours drive of Toronto that are clean to swim in?
    As for Quebec, I think you're right, are any of the lakes close to Quebec city and is it possibly to swim there (as it should be close to the ocean, even slightly saline by that point) ?
  7. Thanks Scylla, I don't dare to swim in the water in Lake Ontario either, I've only put my feet in. I went swimming in Lake Huron on the other hand, at the South Bruce Peninsula and it looks spectacularly clean actually, the waters in the northern part is crystal turquoise. but may not be the same thing as that the water is clean. I heard it's partly due to mussles .
    The drinking water is certainly treated, as I can taste the chlorine. From what I'm aware they add both quite a bit of chlorine and fluoride. I think it would be healthier to just find a cleaner water source and be able to cut down on the chemicals
  8. So would you say that the fast moving water is the bad water? I thought the water standing still would be the most polluted, possibly algaes etc? I don't understand how the largest ones are the ones to avoid as I would guess the opposite? Smaller waters have nowhere to escape and normally sit still, right?
  9. I always go by the Blue Flags posted by the City of Toronto if it’s safe or not


    Years ago in the late 80’s around East end Toronto people would only go into the water wearing a diving suit , I think it’s improved tremendously
    I used to live on Queens Quay in 1991, the water used to actually stink along there , not anymore
    There’s 30 million people that live in the Great Lakes Basin, one cannot compare the clarity of the water to let’s say up north in Cottage Country, or to Lake Huron or Superior
  10. In that case you want to avoid living in or around any cities. All cities will have this (not just Toronto). Of course then you lose the convenience of a city (i.e. public transportation, etc.). But there's always trade offs. You can't have it all.
  11. Thousand Island area is very pretty and lots of boat cruises. In the smaller areas you can go swimming off your boat but wouldn’t say that the area is an area really for swimming.

    There are lots of lakes all over Canada. Not sure where you are located but the Laurentians and Muskoka areas have lots of lakes but there are many other areas. Many areas don’t have beaches though. You are swimming off a dock or walking on rocks.

    Water tastes vary by municipality. The fluoride can be very beneficial for teeth especially for children. You can get a filtration system like a Brita pitcher but it is very wasteful to buy plastic water containers when the tap water is fine.

    The St Lawrence river that leads to the ocean is a good place for whale watching but it is a very large shipping channel. Definitely not a place to swim.
  12. That's some history, it obviously got better. But what exactly is it that's so bad with the lake Ontario i.e. what "kind" of pollution? From what I'm aware it's a moving lake, with inpours and outpours.
  13. There are factories on the lake plus freight boats. Plus there is runoff into the lake from cities and other land. It isn’t as polluted as other lakes but not as clean as many.
    mira_johnson likes this.
  14. I've lived in cities that didn't have this distinct chlorine taste, and I never heard of fluorine being added to the water ever. I still believe that people should be able to make conscious choices about their health. I wash my mouth with fluoride, and theres a reason why I would never swallow it. Sure there are trade offs with absolutely everything, but I'm not just concerned with Toronto here, I'm looking east north west, south for solutions for my "water"-problem/passion, and I'm willing to travel, at least for 2-3 hours for a day-trip for some clean water!
  15. Sounds like you have quite a bit of online research ahead of you. Good luck with your decision...

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