Ohio ranks last in water cleanlinessWritten by Evan Brune | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Out of 30 states tested for water quality, Ohio ranks last, according to a 2013 water quality report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Only 21 percent of samples taken from Ohio waters exceeded national standards for designated beach areas.
“The point of water quality testing is not to look at beach quality in a single day; it’s to give people an overall look at beach quality,” said Rob Moore, senior water policy analyst with the NRDC. “We expected to see a decline in beach advisory issues. The numbers show that the number of beach advisory issues has not declined as expected.”
Ohio tests its water quality four times a week, which exceeds other state standards for water quality testing.
“I want to emphasize that Ohio does a great job at testing its beaches,” said Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper Sandy Bihn. “Ohio does a very good job at informing people when it is advisable and when it is not advisable to be on the beach.”
The report released by the NDRC names storm water runoff as the largest known source of pollution. According to Bihn, much of the pollution is a result of agricultural field tiles.
“What took five or six days to make its way into the lake in 1995, now takes one or two days,” Bihn said.
Maumee Bay State Park had 16 advisories or closings in the last year, with 22 percent of samples exceeding state standards for bacterial contamination. Other Toledo-area park results include Port Clinton, where 47 percent of samples taken exceeded state standards, Catawba Island State Park, where 13 percent of samples exceeded state standards, Kelley’s Island State Park, where 8 percent of samples exceeded state standards, and South Bass Island State Park, where none of the samples taken exceeded state standards.
Though water quality has increased significantly since the 1970s and ’80s, Bihn said beachgoers still have to keep an eye out.
“They’ve tested it; they say it’s safe, but this can change in a New York second,” Bihn said. “If people see dirty water, I would suggest that people stay out of it.”
For more information on beach advisories and closings, visit http://publicapps.odh.ohio.gov/BeachGuardPublic/Default.aspx.