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Trouble Spots

Ah, summer—time for fun in the sun at the 52 public beaches around Chicago. But, beachgoers, beware: beach closings have more than doubled in recent years. We take a look at the area’s most polluted beaches

Chicago’s Four Foulest
The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that releases annual reports on beaches, rated the beaches in Cook County as the ninth dirtiest along the Great Lakes, followed by Lake County’s beaches, rated tenth. Of the 52 beaches around Chicago, here are the four worst, based on the number of days closed in 2004.
1
North Point Marina Beach
Winthrop Harbor, Lake County
37 days closed
2
Jackson Park Beach (63rd Street)
Jackson Park neighborhood, Chicago
32 days closed
3
Montrose Beach
Uptown neighborhood, Chicago
25 days closed
4
Rogers Avenue Park Beach
Rogers Park neighborhood, Chicago
22 days closed
(Six beaches tied for fifth worst. They are: 12th Street Beach in the South Loop; 31st Street Beach in the Douglas neighborhood; Evanston South Boulevard Beach in Evanston; the Jarvis Avenue Park and Loyola Park beaches in Rogers Park; and North Avenue Beach in Lincoln Park.)

 

Number Of Chicago Area Beach Closings Per Year*
2001
154
2002
342
2003
391
2004
790
The alarming increase in recent years partly reflects more frequent monitoring and improved water-testing technology. “The more you look, the more you’ll find,” explains Laurel O’Sullivan, the Great Lakes Campaign coordinator at the NRDC. More closings also stem from higher levels of E. coli and other pathogens polluting the water. O’Sullivan notes that the most common reasons for beach closings are sewer overflows, rain runoff, and waterfowl droppings.
*Lake and Cook counties. Source: National Resources Defense Council
Illustration: Peter and Maria Hoey

You Should Know
For up-to-date information on Chicago beach closings, call (312) 74-BEACH. Or follow the new color-coded signs:

Green=swimming permitted
Yellow=swim advisory
Red=swim ban.

For Illinois beach closings outside Chicago, visit www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/beachclosed.htm.

 

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