Using data supplied by the various states the Natural Resources Defense Council ranks Ohio 30th in beach-water quality, dead last out of the 30 states reviewed.
In its 23rd annual report on bathing beach water quality the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that last year Ohio reported water quality conditions at 63 coastal beaches.
Of this figure 21 percent reported beach monitoring E. coli samples that exceeded the state’s daily maximum bacterial standard of 235 colonies per 100 milliliter, the Council reports.
And, the NRDC also notes, Ohio's beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates last year were: Camp Perry in Ottawa County (70 percent exceedance), Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County (57 percent), Lakeview Beach in Lorain County (52 percent), Bay View West in Erie County (49 percent), Port Clinton (Deep\Lakeview) in Ottawa County (47 percent), Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County (44 percent), and Wagar Beach in Cuyahoga County (44 percent).
Also, more broadly on a county-wide basis, Lorain County had the highest exceedance rate of the daily maximum standard in 2012 (30 percent) followed by Cuyahoga County (29 percent), Ottawa County (27 percent), Lucas County (22 percent), Erie County (17 percent), Ashtabula County (15 percent), and Lake County (13 percent).
Specifically for Lake County in 2012, the beach at Lake Metroparks' Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park saw 108 samples taken there and which resulted in 17 percent of them exceeding state standards, the highest for any of the three tested beach water sites in the county.
For Headlands Beach State Park-East in Painesville Township the 103 test samples taken there last year resulted in a 13-percent exceedance rate.
At the opposite end of the popular lakefront park the 101 test samples taken there in 2012 saw an exceedence rate of 11 percent, or the lowest for any of the three tested beach water sites in the county.
In terms of the numbers of posted advisories, Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park had 18 of them in 2012.
Meanwhile, Headlands Beach State Park-East had 13 posted advisories while Headlands Beach State Park-West had zero.
“However, (Nowcast) modeling at Mentor Headlands State Park Beach and Fairport Harbor Beach in Lake County was not as protective because it produced a number of false negatives: the model predicted bacterial counts under the state maximum, but bacterial monitoring showed that there were actually exceedances.
“The inaccuracy of (Nowcasting) at Mentor Headlands State Park and Fairport Harbor may have been due to scattered, spotty storms throughout the summer and the use of weather data from Ashtabula and Burke Lakefront Airport.
“In some cases, one of the data locations received rain while neither of the Lake County beaches did,” the NRDC's documentation also reveals.
Nowcast is a type of sampling/testing modeling employed at three Lake Erie-based state parks and also by the Lake County General Health District in an effort to determine the process's accuracy, says the NRDC.
The NRDC also “considers all reported samples individually (without averaging) when calculating the percent exceedance rates in this analysis. This includes duplicate samples and samples taken outside the official beach season, if any.”
In the final run-up to releasing its figures the NRDC strongly urges citizens to work toward better water quality which will result in fewer days in which swimmers confront advisories against dipping their toes into the surf.
"Sewage and contaminated run-off in the water can spoil a family vacation real fast, during a day at the beach into a day at the doctor's office with a sick child," said the NRDC's senior attorney Joe Devine.
For a complete look at the NRDC's report with listings for all of the examined 30 states as well as a posting of the nation's cleanest and dirtiest beaches visit the group's web site at www.nrdc.org. And then link to its sub-site “Testing the Waters of 2013: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches.”
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn