Posting or closing of swimming beaches because of faecal contamination is a widespread problem reported in many locations. In a risk-based approach to this problem, the risk to swimmers' health is assessed by field monitoring of indicator bacteria and the associated risks are managed by source controls and other remedial measures. In risk assessment, great advances have been made in recent years with the introduction of microbial source tracking (MST) techniques. Two such techniques, antibiotic resistance analysis and DNA fingerprinting, were applied in a study of causes of faecal contamination at two lake beaches in Toronto, Ontario. Both methods identified bird faeces as the dominant sources of E. coli. Coping with this type of pollution presents a major environmental challenge.