Beach monitors on lookout
Jun 17, 2013 at 2:00 PM
Health workers in Erie and Ottawa counties have begun taking water samples at local beaches, testing for the presence of large numbers of E. coli bacteria. Results, including advisories for heavily contaminated water, are posted online. Both departments received state grants to pay for the testing.
Erie County began testing May 28 at 25 beaches. Water samples are taken four days a week, Monday through Thursday, said Bob England, Erie County’s environmental health director. Testing will continue until the Labor Day weekend.
At beaches open to the public, the health department has put up signs and is posting the latest results on them. Results for all beaches are posted online.
England said health officials will also look for blue-green algae at the beaches. When they see signs of a harmful algal bloom, separate water samples will be taken and tested.
Ottawa County began testing at seven beaches on Monday, said Nancy Osborn, that county’s health commissioner.
Beaches at the Port Clinton city park, Lakeside beach and East Harbor State Park are tested three times a week — on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday — while beaches at Camp Perry, Catawba State Park, Kelleys Island and South Bass Island State Park are tested once a week. Kelleys Island is in Erie County, but it’s easier for Ottawa County to collect the water samples via the ferry.
The water samples from both counties are tested for E. coli bacteria at the Erie County Health Department’s laboratory.
The state health department used to pay for testing four times a week, but it reduced funding, so Ottawa County reduced testing accordingly. State funding for beach testing for Ottawa County fell from $21,032 to $20,455, Osborn said.
“We don’t have any other resources other than what the state gives us for that program,” Osborn said.
England said Erie County, which received about $22,000 this year, took a $1,000 cut but decided to keep testing four times a week.
“The stakeholders in the program are used to four days a week. I didn’t see the point of cutting back,” England said. “I ran some numbers and decided we could continue offering what we had.”
Check your favorite beach
ERIE COUNTY— Health officials test the following 25 beaches four days a week: Battery Park, Bay View East, Bay View West, Cedar Point Chaussee, Chappel Creek, Cranberry Creek, Crystal Rock, Darby Creek, Edson Creek, Fichtel Creek, Hoffman Ditch, Huron River East, Huron River West, Kiwanis, Lions Park, Old Woman Creek East, Old Woman Creek West, Pickerel Creek, Sawmill Creek, Sherod Creek, Showse Park, Sugar Creek, Vermilion River East, Vermilion River West, White’s Landing.
Results are posted at the Erie County Health Department website (http://eriecohealthohio.org); look under “Beach Monitoring” in the “Environmental Health” area. They also are posted at the Ohio Beach Guard site (http://publicapps.odh.ohio.gov/BeachGuardPublic/Default.aspx).
OTTAWA COUNTY — Health officials tests seven beaches: Port Clinton City, Lakeside, East Harbor State Park, Camp Perry, Catawba State Park, Kelleys Island and South Bass Island State Park. Results are posted at the Ohio Beach Guard site. The Ottawa County site (http://www.ottawahealth.org/) has a link to Beach Guard.