The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) today announced a new comprehensive beach safety Web site www.odh.ohio.gov/healthybeaches. On the site Ohioans can check to see if a bacteria advisory or harmful algal bloom advisory has been posted at the 62 monitored Lake Erie beaches or at an inland lake state park beach.
The site was developed with funding from U.S. EPA’s BEACHES grant and is a part of ODH’s expanded bathing beach monitoring communications efforts. Earlier this year, ODH started at healthy beaches Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ohiohealthybeaches) and sponsored a healthy beaches poster contest.
Each year between Memorial Day and Labor Day, selected public beaches are sampled for E. coli bacteria. The presence of these bacteria in beach water is a good indicator of pollution that could be potentially harmful to swimmers. If the sample results are greater than the U.S. EPA recreational standard, an advisory is posted to warn swimmers of the risk of illness associated with water contact. The advisory remains posted until the sample result is below the recreational standard.
The State of Ohio also does monitoring for harmful algal blooms, which are cyanobacteria (also known as blue green algae). Once a harmful algal bloom advisory is posted, the State will periodically sample until the toxins produced by the bloom are below acceptable thresholds or the end of the beach season in Ohio.