Health Topics

Public Swimming Pools, Spas, Wading Pools & Spray Pads

Public Health Services inspects public pools, spas, wading pools and spray pads to ensure compliance with regulations and guidelines under Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Public Pool and Public Spa Operators Guide

Owners and Operators of Public Pools and Spas are responsible for meeting the requirements of the Public Pool Spa Regulations.

To help you meet these responsibilities, Hamilton Public Health Services created Responsibility and Compliance Guides for Owners and Operators of Public Pools and Spas. These guides explain what  owners and operators are required to do to operate and maintain a safe and healthy public pool or spa.

All owners of public pools and spas are required to designate an operator and to notify the medical officer of health in writing of their intention to open or reopen their pool or spa. To assist you in this regard, Hamilton Public Health Services has developed a notification form that you may use.

Send completed forms by email, Fax, or mail to:
Fax: 905-546-2787

City of Hamilton Public Health Services
Safe Water Program
110 King Street West, 2nd Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4S6

Report health and safety concerns or complaints

If you have a health or safety concern or complaint about any public recreational water facility:

Public Health Services inspection reports

Inspection reports for public pools, spas, wading pools and spray pads are available online.

Recreational water illnesses and injuries

Recreational Water Illnesses, also called RWIs, are caused by germs that might be in public pools, hot tubs, wading pools, spray pads and beaches. These germs can include E.coli, Norovirus, Shigella, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Diarrhea is the most common RWI; other illnesses include skin, eye, ear and lung infections.

If you are ill and use a public pool, hot tub, wading pool, splash pad or beach, you can contaminate the water with diarrhea, vomit or skin infections. Others who use the water can become ill by:

  • swallowing contaminated water
  • direct contact with eyes, nose, ears or open sores

Children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for getting recreational water illnesses.

Reduce the risk of illness and injury at all public pools:

• Do not swim if you have diarrhea, vomiting or open sores.
• Do not swallow recreational water.
• Shower before entering the pool and wash your hands after using the toilet!
• Do not enter the water if it is not clear or you cannot see the bottom of the pool.
• Read and follow Pool Rules.
• Parents of young children should follow the Pool Admission Standards; ask a lifeguard about your responsibilities.

Safety tips for hot tubs and spas:

• Know where the emergency shut-off switch is. Each public hot tub and spa has one.
• Do not drink alcohol before entering or while in the hot tub or spa.
• Do not stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes at a time. Staying in too long can cause dizziness or fainting.
• Keep children under 5 years old out of hot tubs.
• Do not enter the water if the water is not clear, this applies when the jets are off.
• Leave the water if there is excessive foaming.
• Read and follow the Spa Rules posted at all public spas and hot tubs.

Safety tips for spray pads and wading pools:

• Drowning can happen in seconds; always stay with your child.
• Check for any safety hazards like broken glass or anything with sharp edges.
• Keep your child away from any drains or suction devices.
• Keep pets away.
• Leave wading pools and spray pads clean and free of garbage

Swim diapers and germs:

Swim diapers do not keep diarrhea and germs from leaking into the pool. Swim diapers only delay leakage.

Prevent swim diaper accidents:

• Do not take your child swimming if they have diarrhea.
• Take your children on regular bathroom breaks.
• Check diapers frequently and change them in the bathroom.
• Wash your hands after you change a diaper.
• Use swim diapers that fit tightly.
• Report any fecal leaks to pool staff.

Swimming at the beach

Check Hamilton's beach water quality

Beach water quality is monitored at Hamilton public beaches between Victoria Day and Labour Day. Public Health Services posts beach water quality as Unsafe for Swimming if lab tests show bacteria levels (E. coli) are too high or if blue green algae is present.

E. coli indicates that harmful germs such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites might be present. You can get sick if contaminated water is swallowed, enters your ears, eyes or nose, or comes in contact with open wounds.

Blue green algae blooms can happen in Hamilton Harbour in the summer and are typically seen as bright green surface scums. Blue green algae can make toxins that are harmful if swallowed or come in contact with skin.

Tips when swimming at the beach:

• Do not swim for 24 hours after a heavy rainfall. Bacteria and other germs can be present from storm water runoff.
• Do not swim if water is not clear or has an algae surface scum.
• Do not swim in rough water conditions.
• Do not go swimming alone or if you are not a strong swimmer.
• Always keep an eye on your children and within arm’s reach.