Ohio's Beaches Second Most Contaminated in Nation

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Last year only Louisiana's beaches topped Ohio's when it comes to bacterial contamination, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's Testing the Waters study. Indiana ranked a close third, and Illinois fourth.

The results are based on the percentage of water samples that fell below minimum safety standards during the summer of 2008.

In Cuyahoga County, 47 percent of the samples taken at Euclid beach State Park were deemed unsafe; 45 percent at Villa Angela State Park and 34 percent at Edgewater Park. All three beaches are located in Cleveland. Lakeshore Park in Ashtabula County had the states highest bacterial levels.

Environmentalists say in Ohio the biggest sources of bacterial contamination are storm water run-off and overflow from combined swear systems.

Frank Greenland is the Director of Watershed Programs at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. He says urban areas are naturally more vulnerable to contamination.

GREENLAND: "More people, more population, introduces more sewer systems, introduces more lawns, introduces more pavement, introduces more possibilities to get pollutant sources to the beaches and to the lake."

Greenland says wildlife like geese and seagulls also contribute to the bacterial contamination.

He says Ohio is trying hard to deal with beach pollution. Work has already begun on a multi-billion dollar project to improve the Northeast Ohio's sewer system. And -- unlike other counties - bathing beaches in Cuyahoga County are sampled everyday. That way the public can be alerted to elevated levels.

Caitlin Johnson, 90.3

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