Exposure to microorganisms resistant to antimicrobials may constitute a health risk to human populations. It is believed that one route of exposure occurs when people engage in recreational activities in water contaminated with these microorganisms. The main objective of this study was to explore population-level and environmental determinants specifically associated with the presence of antimicrobial resistant (AMR) generic Escherichia coli isolated from recreational waters sampled from beaches located in southern Quebec, Canada. Water samples originated from the Quebec provincial beach surveillance program for the summers of 2004 and 2005. This study focused on three classes of determinants, namely: agricultural, population-level and beach characteristics for a total of 19 specific factors. The study was designed as a retrospective observational analysis and factors were assessed using logistic regression methods. From the multivariable analysis, the data suggested that the percentage of land used for spreading liquid manure was a significant factor associated with the presence of AMR E. coli (OR=27.73). Conceptually, broad factors potentially influencing the presence of AMR bacteria in water must be assessed specifically in addition to factors associated with general microbial contamination. Presence of AMR E. coli in recreational waters from beaches in southern Quebec may represent a risk for people engaging in water activities and this study provides preliminary evidence that agricultural practices, specifically spreading liquid manure in agricultural lands nearby beaches, may be linked to the contamination of these waters by AMR E. coli.