See Which Beaches Are Open Before You Head Out This Memorial Day Weekend or Summer

SPRINGFIELD, ILL.–(ENEWSPF)–May 27, 2011.  To help keep you safe and healthy this summer, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold is reminding residents they can check the water quality at beaches across the state with just the click of a button. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Web site, www.idph.state.il.us, provides information about public and private beaches, including water testing results, advisories, closures and beach monitoring history.

“Illinois beaches are a great resource and we want to make sure people remain healthy while enjoying them. The beach monitoring Web site provides information daily about water quality and beach advisories or closures, so people know if it’s safe to swim that day,” said Dr. Arnold.

The Web site includes water quality test results, when a beach was closed, for how many days and why. The Web site also includes beach site details such as the location, whether it’s a public or private beach, who owns it and who monitors it.

IDPH licenses all swim beaches in Illinois under the Swimming Facility Act, except for those on Lake Michigan, which are operated by local municipalities.

Municipalities operating beaches on Lake Michigan perform water testing and public notification in compliance with the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000 and are funded by the IDPH.

Water quality testing is important to help reduce the number of recreational water illness (RWI) cases. Test results show bacteria and other microorganism levels in the water, which if high, could make you sick if you swim in the water.

Gastroenteritis is the most common illness associated with swimming in polluted water. Gastroenteritis is caused by germs such as Crypto (short for Cryptosporidium), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus and E. coli. Symptoms can include chills, nausea, diarrhea, stomachache, headache, and fever. Swimming related illnesses are typically minor, but if you think you have a swimming related illness, contact your health care provider.

To help reduce your risk of recreational water illnesses:

  • Avoid swimming after a heavy rain.
  • Look for storm drains (pipes that drain polluted water from streets) along the beach and don’t swim near them.
  • Look for trash and other signs of pollution such as oil slicks in the water. These types of pollutants may indicate the presence of disease-causing microorganisms that may also have been washed into the water.

A direct link to the Illinois Department of Public Health Beach Monitoring Web site is http://app.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/ilbeaches/public/.

Source: idph.state.il.us