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article imagePlanning on a trip to the beach this summer? Read this first

By Karen Graham     Jun 25, 2014 in Environment
Millions of people will be hitting the beaches this summer, expecting to enjoy the surf, the sand and just plain relaxation. But sadly, your trip to the beach could turn into a nightmare because 10 percent of U.S. beaches failed to meet safety standards.
The National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) has issued its 24th annual "Testing the Waters" report. This report assesses the water quality at over 3,400 ocean and Great Lakes beaches in the United States., and this year, for the first time, 10 percent of water samples collected failed to meet the federal governments benchmark for water quality safety.
The safety of our beach waters should be a concern for all of us. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that almost 3.5 million people become ill from poor water quality every year in the U.S., mainly because of coming into contact with "raw sewage from sanitary overflows,"
Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz ranked 2nd most contaminated in California according to report by environ...
Cowell Beach in Santa Cruz ranked 2nd most contaminated in California according to report by environmental group Heal the Bay.
KSBW Action News 8
NRDC senior attorney Jon Devine said in a statement, “Sewage and contaminated runoff in the water should never ruin a family beach trip. But no matter where you live, urban slobber and other pollution can seriously compromise the water quality at your favorite beach and make your family sick.”
The Good, the bad and the downright ugly
So where are the cleanest beaches in America? Beaches in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia can be proud because their beaches posted some of the lowest failure rates of all the beaches tested across the country.
These beaches, along with beaches in 14 other states were included in the NRDC's listing of "Superstar Beaches." This means they did not exceed the previous national standards for water quality between 2010 and 2912 by more than two percent, and also did not exceed the new, stricter EPA water quality threshold, called the Beach Action Value (BAV), by more than 2% in 2013.
The new EPA Beach Action Value resulted in a distinct increase in beaches failing to meet water quality standards in a number of states. The Great Lakes region had the highest number of failures, with 13 percent of beaches showing water impurities. Ohio was in this group, and had the worst score with a failure rate of 35 percent. Following Ohio were Alaska with 24 percent and Mississippi with a 21 percent failure rate.
Downright ugly list
Shameful as it is, a total of 17 beaches in the U.S. have the dubious distinction of being "repeat offenders," showing “consistent contamination problems.” To qualify for this list, beaches have to consistently fail to meet minimum water quality standards at least 25 percent of the time since 2009.
South Shore Beach  WI.  one of the NRDC s repeat offenders for 2014.
South Shore Beach, WI., one of the NRDC's repeat offenders for 2014.
Wisconsin Beach Health
These beaches are deserving of being listed in their entirety, only because of the danger they pose to swimmers. Here they are:
California: Malibu Pier, 50 yards east of the pier, in Los Angeles County
Indiana: Jeorse Park Beach in Lake County (both monitored sections): Lake Jeorse Park Beach I, Lake Jeorse Park Beach II.
Massachusetts: Cockle Cove Creek in Barnstable County.
Maine: Goodies Beach in Knox County.
New Jersey: Beachwood Beach in Ocean County.
New York: Main Street Beach in Chautauqua County, Wright Park — East in Chautauqua County, Ontario Beach in Monroe County.
Ohio: Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County, Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County, Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County, Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County, Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County, Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County, Edson Creek in Erie County.
Wisconsin: South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County.
Beach Pollution's impact on your health
Beach pollution creates a "double whammy." Not only does polluted water make people sick, but it has a disastrous effect on the local economy. South Carolina's "Grand Strand" is a good example of this. Pollution from stormwater pipes sweep polluted water and sometimes, raw sewage directly into the waters along the beaches that make up the Grand Strand.
10 percent of America s beaches are not safe enough for swimming.
10 percent of America's beaches are not safe enough for swimming.
Jim Crabtree
The illnesses associated with contaminated water are varied, with everything from the stomach flu to skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis, and hepatitis. And for the very young and the elderly, some of these infections can be deadly. In addition, economists estimate that a visitor's visit to a beach while on vacation is worth about $35 a day to the local economy. So it is easy to calculate the loss to a business if the beaches are closed.
The best thing for a family planning a trip to the beach this summer is to first go online to the NRDC Testing the Waters report for 2014. There, you can click on your state and check out the water quality of the beach you are planning to visit.
More about National Resources Defense Council, Testing the Waters, Water quality, stormwater pipes, Pollution
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