Those envisioning July 4 celebrations at the beach may be swimming at their own risk, according to a new study that found the number of beach closures nationwide due to dirty water soared last year.The best beach weather of the year is here. Water temperatures are balmy, and the sea nettles have yet to make a substantial appearance. But the water may not be as safe as you think
The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its annual report Wednesday, found that beach closures and advisories across the country increased by 29 percent in 2010 compared to a year earlier. The conservation group used data from 3,000 locations nationwide and found that waters in Louisiana, Ohio, Indiana and Michigan had the highest levels of contamination.
Virginia came in at No. 12 and exceeded the EPA’s contamination level 5 percent of the time, up from 3 percent in 2009. Maryland came in at No. 16 and went over the recommended standards 7 percent of the time, also up from 3 percent in 2009. Delaware had among the cleanest beaches, ranking fifth with 3 percent of samples above standards, up slightly from 2 percent in 2010.
Beaches where violations were most frequent were concentrated in Newport News and King George and Mathews counties in Virginia and Kent and Cecil counties on the upper Chesapeake Bay in in Maryland. One beach in Kent County had contamination closures or advisories for 71 days in 2010.
We've had beach closures at Long Beach a few times over the years, largely associated with contamination washed down from the land in the small streams (yeah, the ones that Skye and the other dogs drink in).
The threat is not insignificant. A friend once scraped himself of a rock while exiting a kayak. The scrape became infected with several different bacteria, and he developed a potentially life-threatening infection.
So when you go to the beach, make a quick check for closure notices...