Sunshine, clean sand, waves, people tanning and having fun-that’s the typical beach atmosphere. What about swimming bans, trash strewn in the sand, empty bottles lying about, and excess bacteria and E.coli levels in the water? Well the later has just described many of the problematic conditions at Chicago beaches.
At some of the beaches in Chicago, swimming is not even permitted due to extremely high levels of bacteria in the water. These levels pose a serious risk of illness to anyone who swims in the water. The beaches with such high bacteria levels in the water have been red flagged, thus banning swimmers from going in. In this summer heat wave, most people are looking for a fun place to cool off. Naturally, you would think the beach would be the perfect spot but no one wants to go somewhere that can be hazardous to their health or the health of those around.
The Chicago Park District says they are trying to fight E.coli levels in Lake Michigan but some of it is beyond their control. In addition to rainfall, the water is polluted by sea gull waste, trash people throw in, and sewage waste from septic systems and pet wastes. That is disgusting to even think about and even more disgusting if you’re in the water along one of the high bacteria beaches. Even the beaches with moderate levels of bacteria are not safe for everyone. People are advised to keep their babies, small children, the elderly, and those susceptible to illness out of the water.
Some avid beach goers claim they don’t mind the bacteria levels in the water and would still swim in it. But one thing they may not know is that even if they aren’t ingesting any of the water by accidentally swallowing it, the water can get into their systems through their ears when they are submerged. And for most people, regardless of how hard you try not to swallow any water, you will still ingest some of it. Suppose you have an open cut or wound that hasn’t completely healed and you submerge yourself in bacteria infested water; that bacteria is getting into your system.
So what are people to do to keep cool during the scorching summer season? Well you may decide on a water park to travel too or go to a park swimming pool instead. There will be bacteria in either place due to the number of people that frequent these cool off spots but at least it is safer than a banned beach. The best bet is for those who have their own private swimming pools or those who travel somewhere with beautiful and clean beaches where the water is safe to swim. Just a heads up to those who live in Chicago or anyone planning to visit one of Chicago’s beaches, be aware of which beaches have been flagged and how high the levels of bacteria are. You can check the swimming conditions on Chicago’s beaches on the Chicago Park Districts website www.cpdit.com/resources/beaches.