Protecting health and water with an open standard for automated data exchange

This website is the home of the first ever open data standard for recreational water quality. The Open Data Standard for Recreational Water Quality project is funded by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA)’s Community Investment Program. In June 1, 2017 Swim Drink Fish Canada’s Swim Guide program began work to develop an open data standard for recreational water quality. Over the course of winter 2017-2018 the open data standard will be available here for comment. Updates about the project will also be made on our social media feeds and on

About the Open Data Standard for Recreational Water Quality Project

Hundreds of Canadian municipalities, park organizations and nonprofits test water for e. coli bacteria, algae, and/or other harmful pollutants on a daily or weekly basis. The data should be shared quickly (within 24 hours) and with as wide an audience as possible in order to help people avoid waterborne illnesses; yet, there is no technical standard for doing so. Due to poor public disclosure, nearly 50,000 Canadians get sick each year.

For five years, Swim Guide staff and affiliates have been manually compiling water quality information from websites (some using legacy technologies such as Flash), phone hotlines, spreadsheets and publishing it to Swim Guide. They do this 365-days a year, requiring more than one hundred contributors and thousands of person-hours.

It’s worth it: more than 1.5-million people have used Swim Guide. But an open data standard for automated data exchange would improve the quality and timeliness of the information, as well as reduce costs.

A handful of monitoring authorities have machine-readable data feeds, but they are unique, proprietary implementations. Making use of these feeds requires a customized implementation for each authority, creating an unnecessary barrier to using this data to protect health and the environment.

About CIRA and CIRA’s Community Investment Project

CIRA is the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, a member-based not-for- profit best known for its management and stewardship of the .CA domain on behalf of all Canadians.

CIRA is contributing to a safer, more secure and reliable Canadian Internet by maintaining a trusted .CA domain, by developing new products and services that directly strengthen the Canadian Internet and by giving back to the Internet community in Canada.

CIRA’s Community Investment Program supports initiatives that build a better online Canada. CIRA is actively building a stronger Internet in Canada by funding projects with charities, not-for- profits and the academic community that are making the Internet better for all Canadians.

Revenue from the sales and renewals of .CA domains support CIRA’s Community Investment Program.

About Us

Originally known as “Lake Ontario Waterkeeper,” Swim Drink Fish Canada’s mission is to ensure a future where water is swimmable, drinkable, and fishable.

We represent 1.8-million people in communities where access to clean water is threatened. We teach water literacy and support grassroots efforts to combat beach closures, drinking water threats, and disappearing habitat. 

Our flagship projects fuse science, culture, law and technology: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Watermark Project, and Swim Guide.

Since 2011, Swim Guide has helped nearly 2-million people find beaches, check water quality, and report pollution. In the process, it has helped to prevent thousands of waterborne illnesses.