Although Ottawa County’s health department will test beaches again along the Lake Erie shore to make sure it’s safe to swim, this summer it will stop testing one of the county’s dirtiest beaches.
The county’s health commissioner, Nancy Osborn, said Tuesday that when the state health department renewed its contract with the local department for beach testing, it cut state funding for the program from $22,000 to $17,559 and told her to stop testing the beach at Camp Perry.
It’s a federal beach and not the state’s responsibility, state officials told her.
Last year, Ottawa County tested seven beaches — six in Ottawa County, and also Kelleys Island, which is in Erie County.
Except for leaving out Camp Perry, the program will be the same in 2014 as it was in 2013, Osborn said.
After testing concluded in 2013, Port Clinton’s municipal beach emerged as the dirtiest beach in the county, at least in terms of beach advisories. The county issued nine advisories for Port Clinton’s beach during the summer of 2013, warning people to stay out of the water because of a high bacteria count.
Camp Perry had only two advisories in 2013, but it had six in 2012. Historically, Camp Perry and Port Clinton have had the worst beaches, Osborn said last year when reviewing the beach testing results.
A spokeswoman at the state health department said the beach-testing grant money the department hands out comes from the federal government. This year, those federal funds arrived with guidelines that the money should not be used for testing federal beaches, spokeswoman Tessie Pollock said.
“This is a change from last year,” Pollock said. “The guidance didn’t include why”
The beaches that will be tested in Ottawa County this year are at Catawba Island State Park; East Harbor State Park; Kelleys Island State Park; Lakeside Beach; Port Clinton; and South Bass Island State Park.
The results are posted at Ohio’s Beach Guard website, and the local health department issues advisories when the water isn’t safe for swimmers.