By Cameron Davis
Some of the most frequent questions I get are “do you swim at the beach?” or “are Great Lakes beaches clean?”
My inner beach enthusiast kicks in and I use the question as a chance to go into education mode. Sparing you the lecture here, my basic answer is: “Absolutely. Great Lakes beaches are some of the best in the world. Just pay attention to your local advisories.”
As we head into the Independence Day holiday and beyond, this summer we have even more reasons to hit the beach:
- A new generation of apps for smart phones and web tools are available. Check out http://glin.net/beachcast/
- Check out/search for a Great Lakes volunteer beach health program to learn about why beaches close and how you can do your part to keep your community’s beach open, clean and fun.
- Thanks to work by the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA and others, health agencies are increasingly able to predict when conditions warrant a health advisory, rather than wait until testing results come back, often a day late when the results don’t mean much. http://cida.usgs.gov/glri/projects/nearshore_health/beach_water_quality.html
- The need for beach advisories and closures is decreasing. For example, the number of swimming bans and advisories in Chicago is at a five-year low.
Much of this work is the result of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative investments. Which means, they’re your programs.
And, if all of this isn’t enough to make you want to head to your neighborhood Great Lakes beach this 4th of July, think about this: though the water may still be warming up this time of year, unlike the east, west and south coasts, we don’t have salt to sting your eyes. Or stinging jellyfish. Or man-eating sharks.
Find out more about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative at www.glri.us or by following me on Twitter @CameronDavisEPA.
About the author: Cameron Davis is Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. He provides counsel on Great Lakes matters, including the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.