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Bay View beach a bust

Tom Jackson • Jun 29, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Erie County officials say they aren't surprised a national environmental group has rated a beach in western Erie County one of the worst in the state.

Everyone knows about the problems in Bay View, and they're working on a project that would hook up the town's residents to a sewer system. 

Erie County health commissioner Pete Schade sent a letter Wednesday asking for a meeting with Gov. John Kasich in a bid to secure roughly $6 million needed for the work.

The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report Wednesday on pollution in America's beaches, as measured by E. coli bacteria counts. It was a national report, but it singled out Ohio as a problem area. 

Great Lakes beaches in Ohio posted the highest contamination rates in the U.S., according to the report, "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches." The report is available at nrdc.org/beaches.

The Ohio section of the report lists the Bay View West beach in Erie County as the fourth-worst in the state. It lists an Ottawa County beach as the worst.

The beaches were ranked according to how often they exceeded maximum bacteria counts when water samples were tested.

"The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the state standard in 2012 were Camp Perry in Ottawa County (70%), Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County (57%), Lakeview Beach in Lorain County (52%), Bay View West in Erie County (49%), Port Clinton (Deep\Lakeview) in Ottawa County (47%), Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County (44%), and Wagar Beach in Cuyahoga County (44%)," the report says.

Erie County environmental health director Bob England said he's not surprised at the poor ranking for the Bay View West beach, as Bay View is his department's most pressing public health problem.

Schade's letter to Kasich outlines the problem.

"Over the past several years, I have been working to bring sanitary sewers to a small village of 400 homes on the Sandusky Bay. The Village of Bay View, Ohio, has septic systems that basically dump raw sewage directly into Sandusky Bay," Schade wrote. 

The letter continued: "We sample the Bay waters four times a week, and the E.Coli counts are at advisory levels most of the time. The water quality problems here, coupled with gross sewage pollution, result in Harmful Algal Blooms. The bacteria feed on the sewage and toxic algae is the result."

The design of Bay View's planned sewer project has been completed. Officials have been applying to state and federal agencies to obtain grant funds that would lower the cost of the project and allow it to be completed while keeping sewer bills for Bay View residents at a reasonable amount.

Schade's letter concludes by asking if Kasich will meet with him for a discussion of the Bay View sewer project.

Schade told Erie County's health board last week that he wrote the letter after a meeting with representatives of several agencies. He told Kasich the same thing, saying that the agencies seem to be making little effort to get a needed project completed.

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