There are no Blue Flag Beaches in Grey Bruce this year.
Environmental Defence releases an annual list and 2018 boasts a record number of 27 blue flag beaches and 9 marinas. (Up by 1 marina over last year).
The closest beaches and marinas to the area that have blue flag status are Wasaga Beach areas 1,2 and 5, Bayfield Main Beach and Bluewater Marina in the Municipality of Bluewater as well as Grand Bend Beach, Grand Bend Marina and Port Franks Marina in Lambton Shores.
Kelsey Scarfone, Blue Flag Program Manager with Environmental Defence says municipalities apply each year for Blue Flag status.
She notes Sauble Beach has not applied since being rejected in 2015 due to complications arising out of the endangered Piping Plover issue and beach maintenance.
Also notably, not all of Wasaga Beach's sections get blue flag status because there are dogs allowed in some areas.
Scarfone says Kincardine beach is a candidate but is still working on meeting some safety requirements.
She says neither Saugeen Shores nor Goderich applied.
There are 33 criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a blue flag.
Some of those include sampling the water every month. Industrial wastewater or sewage must not affect the beach. There can't be oil or garbage on the water surface. There can't be any algae or natural debris on the beach.
Other criteria say there should be waste and recycling bins available. Dogs are not allowed, aside from service dogs. The beach must meet safety evaluation standards, and there must be different zones for different activities (like a swimming zone and a boating zone). Noise management considerations must be in place. Drinking water should be available at the beach.
The beach also has to be in compliance with all applicable laws, and sensitive areas must be properly managed.
Many other requirements have to do with signage, for example, having environmental and educational information signage, and a detailed beach map on display.
Scarfone says "Millions of tourists around the world look for a Blue Flag when choosing a beach or marina to visit," adding "When you see a Blue Flag raised at a beach or marina, you know that it's clean, sustainably managed and a safe place to swim."
The Blue Flag is administered in Canada by Environmental Defence and is managed internationally by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
More than 4,000 beaches and marinas in 45 countries fly the Blue Flag.
To see the beach criteria list, click here