Ohio's beaches among most polluted in country

Jun 27, 2012

A new water quality report shows Ohio's beaches are among the most polluted in the Great Lakes Region -- which is one of the worst in the nation.  Alison Holm has more

The Natural Resources Defense Council report "Testing the Waters" ranks Ohio near the bottom of the pack -- 29th of 30 states surveyed.  22 percent of the water samples taken along the Lake Erie shore in the Buckeye state exceeded national standards for pollutants that can make swimmers sick.  The Council's Jon Devine:

JD: More than two thirds of the closings and advisories  in 2011 were issued because testing revealed indicator bacteria levels in the water that were worse public health standard.

The report blames much of the problem on storm water runoff and sewage pollution.  Devine says it's a growing problem.

JD: There were 23, 481 closing and advisory days at America's coastal and Great Lakes beaches in 2011, which is the third highest level in the 22 years since  NRDC began compiling this report. The Great Lakes region had the highest violation rate of beach water standards:  11 percent of samples in 2011.

One of the problems in the Great Lakes region is the prevalence of combined sewer systems.  According to the report, 70 percent of all combined systems in the country are in the area.  these systems -- which collect sanitary sewage and storm water runoff in a single pipe -- are more easily overwhelmed by heavy rainfall, and dump into local waterways.  The report notes that the frequency of such heavy rain storms in the Great Lakes region has more than doubled in the past 50 years.

The report calls for stricter safety standards and more enforcement of polluted storm water runoff protections.  It also includes a rating guide to the water quality at some of the most popular vacation beaches in the country.  The entire report is available at the Natuaral Resource Defense Counil website: