Illinois beaches are some of the nation's most polluted, according to a study released yesterday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The study ranked water quality on beaches in 30 states. Illinois came in 27th.
Of the 52 beaches studied in Illinois, 23 are operated by the Chicago Park District. In the city, Montrose Beach rated worst.
Water quality problems on the Great Lakes are complicated by the fact that the lakes are interconnected. Water quality problems in one municipality can affect others, too.
“It’s bigger than the city of Chicago,” says Josh Mogerman spokesman for the council. “It’s really important to remember that a lot of the issues that beach managers are dealing with are not necessarily issues that they can deal with locally.”
The major sources of pollution are dirty storm water runoff and sewage overflows.
Though Illinois’ beaches ranked poorly, Mogerman says Chicago is a leader among beach water management.
“The city of Chicago is a great example of how beach managers should be dealing with this issue,” says Mogerman.
The Park District is trying out a rapid water testing method that yields same day results, as opposed to the widely used sampling system that takes 24 hours to produce results when testing for bacteria.
That allows them to close beaches more quickly after sewage overflows and runoff problems, and to open them faster after the pollution has cleared.