It is now easier than ever for people to find out if a Great Lakes beach is safe for swimming.
Excluding New York, all of the Great Lakes states have websites dedicated to statewide beach closure information, so people can better avoid possible sickness.
“The source of the data comes from all of the local health departments that collect water samples, get them tested, then report results according to public health code,” said Shannon Briggs, toxicologist at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Many of these websites are a result of funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s BEACH act grants. Grants have been given to eligible Great Lakes states since Congress passed the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health act in 2000 to improve beach monitoring and notification programs.
All of the Great Lakes states were given around $220,000 this year in BEACH act grants, according to the agency’s website. New York received $341,000, the highest grant in the region, most likely because it is the only state without a statewide beach closure website. The Canadian government funds the beach closure information for the province of Ontario.
Below is a list of beach monitoring websites for the Great Lakes region.
Click on the state (or province) to access its beach monitoring website:
- New York —This site is for closures in New York City and surrounding areas only. Beach information may not be available for all New York counties. The best way to find out is to find your county’s health department website from the New York State Association of County Health Officials website. The only Great Lakes coastal county in New York with an online beach monitoring system is Niagara County.
And for all of you tech-savvy Echo readers, closure information for all of the Great Lakes states can also be found in the myBeachCast app for Android smartphones — sorry Apple lovers. Non-Android users can access complementary information on the myBeachCast website.
The app makes it easy to access beach information from all of the state closure websites in real time, Briggs said. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has funded myBeachCast since its start in 2011, when it only included closure information for Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. Though the app has been updated since then to include the entire region, the price has not — it’s still free!