Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clean beaches are a healthy environment – are we monitoring them sufficiently?


A good indicator of an area’s Water Quality is the state of their beaches. How healthy are our beaches and how many of our beaches are we testing? This matters because it takes time and money to test our beaches, and (as the report below states) “Current water quality tests also take 24 hours or more to produce results, so beaches are not closed or placed under advisory until after beachgoers have spent a day swimming in water that did not meet water quality standards.”

Our drinking water gets tested and treated to make sure that it is safe to drink. But, are our beaches tested as rigorously? When you check the beaches in our area in NRDC: Testing the Waters 2011 report you only get the status of one beach.

NRDC: Testing the Waters 2011 “NRDC's annual survey of water quality and public notification at U.S. beaches finds that the number of beach closings and advisories in 2010 reached 24,091 — the second-highest level since NRDC began tracking these events 21 years ago, confirming that our nation's beaches continue to suffer from bacterial pollution that puts swimmers at risk.” NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council - The Earth's Best Defense

We have more beaches. Should we have extensive reports on all the beaches in our area for public review? Over the years, over the decades, we have put a lot of pollution—human and industrial waste—into our waters. Shouldn’t we be able to check to be sure that our children who swim in our beaches are swimming are safe?

Ohio has on online system where the public can continually check their beaches:

Ohio BeachGuard System “Ohio conducts a monitoring and notification program of selected public and semi-private beaches located along the Ohio/Lake Erie border. The purpose of beach monitoring is to test the water quality of the state’s swimming beach waters and to notify the public whenever bacteria levels present a potential health risk to those engaged in water activities. Beach Guard provides data on advisories as well as monitoring activity.”

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