Hitting the beach for the Fourth of July? How to check a beach's water safety.
Just in time for the Fourth of July, a report on the environmental quality of America's beaches. Does your beach get five stars?
Beachgoing and resort attendance is big business in America – especially on Fourth of July weekend. Some 450 million people will visit over 3,000 US beaches this year, says David Beckman, water program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).Skip to next paragraph
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And now, before you hit the sand, you can find out if your beach of choice is closed and what the quality of the water will be like.
The NRDC has just released its 21st annual beach report, “Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches,” an analysis of water quality and public notification data at US beaches. “We hope the takeaway from this report is for people to know: there is a way to check the safety of beaches before using them,” says Mr. Beckman.
The good news is, beaches are getting cleaner. Notwithstanding individual events like the BP oil spill, analysts say, beach health overall has gotten steadily better for several years – as has public understanding of the issue.
“Beach monitoring and beach quality have received steady and persistent attention from the press, the public, and groups like NRDC,” says Elizabeth Alm, a microbiologist at Central Michigan University.
Is your beach a “Superstar”?
The NRDC has awarded “Superstar” status to four beaches that have won five stars every year for the past three years: two in Delaware and one each in Minnesota and New Hampshire. At the other end of the public health spectrum are the Top 10 Repeat Offender beaches. California claims the top three places on that list.
In addition to calling out those 14 winners and losers, the report evaluates the 200 most popular beaches in the US, highlighting which surf-and-sand spots meet – or don’t meet – acceptable health standards for bacteria and other water-borne pathogens that can lurk beneath the surface.