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More than 50 places where the water is of good quality for swimming in Montreal

Baignade à Montréal, Habitat 67 - Sophie Lachance - Se baigner à Montréal



Montreal, June 29, 2022 – As we approach the Grand Splash at the Old Port of Montreal and the official opening of the port basin at the Port of Quebec this Friday, July 1, Fondation Rivières unveils a map listing 51 sites where the quality of the water, near the banks, allows swimming in Montreal. In light of this data, the City has everything it needs to become a North American model of access to the banks.

Swimming in Montreal: Strong potential from east to west

The Foundation analyzed the data collected for nearly 20 years by the Aquatic Environment Monitoring Network (RSMA). This analysis reveals that there are 51 places accessible from the shores of the island of Montreal where at least 90 % samples show good water quality for swimming in dry weather. For information purposes, the RSMA sampled 103 sites in 2021. Swimable places are mainly concentrated in the west of the island, whether in the St. Lawrence River or the Rivière des Prairies. However, there are a few places in the east where the water quality is suitable for swimming. 

Dry weather contamination problems are generally caused by problems with reverse connections, that is, residential or commercial sewer lines connected to the storm water system. This results in wastewater being released into waterways without treatment. This is a phenomenon known to the City of Montreal for many years. Swimming in urban areas is often impossible after heavy rains, which are accompanied by sewage overflows, affecting water quality. 

Resilience to climate change

Thanks to its island character and the quality of its riverside water, Montreal has everything to become a model of accessibility to waterways. However, there are currently only three free public swimming areas on its territory: at Verdun beach, at the Cap-Saint-Jacques nature park and at the Bois-de-L'Île nature park. Weird. The City is only planning three projects to open swimming areas in the river: at the future Lachine Riverfront Park, at Promenade Bellerive Park and at Plage de l'Est, the latter being compromised by the potential presence of the redhorse. copperhead, a species threatened with extinction. 

“If there are so many places where the water is clean, how come there are so few water access projects in Montreal? Beyond the beaches, there are all kinds of developments that could be made to allow activities like kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding and even river surfing. What are we waiting for to allow citizens to benefit from it? », asks the general director of Fondation Rivières, André Bélanger. 

Remember that allowing the public to cool off during heatwaves is part of the 2030 strategic plan of the City of Montreal, which is committed to taking concrete actions in terms of adaptation to climate change, while placing emphasis on the most vulnerable populations.

Harbor bath in Quebec: claim the equivalent in Montreal

The official opening of the Louise Basin in Quebec this Friday, July 1, coincides with the holding of the Grand Splash at the Old Port of Montreal, an event where many citizens jump into the water to claim access to swimming. The water of the Old Port of Montreal is one of the targeted places whose water quality is suitable for swimming. 

Methodology and details

This analysis of Fondation Rivières is based on data from the RSMA of the City of Montreal, taken during the summer period, from 2003 to 2021. Only sites where sampling took place over a minimum of five consecutive years, part of which registered during the last ten years, were selected. 

In Quebec, the fecal coliform concentration standards for swimming are set at a maximum of 200 CFU/100mL (Colony Forming Unit). Dry weather is associated with a period without rain at least 48 hours before sampling. The Foundation would have hoped to be able to analyze the data in the Laval sector, but the city of Laval does not make this information public. Parameters relating to water flow and security of access installations are excluded.



Source :

Sophie Lachance
Communications and Mobilization Leader
Fondation Rivières
514-272-2666, ext. 307

Photo: Dominique Tosini

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