Beach Closure Meaning Why Can’t I Still Swim?
The Lakes Management Unit tests all 9 Lake County Lake Michigan beaches every day of the week and all inland licensed beaches twice per month from May through September. The water at these beaches is tested for the bacteria, E coli, which is found in the intestines of almost all warm-blooded animals (i.e., birds, dogs).
The presence of E coli is an indicator that fecal material is present. Swimmers may have increased risk in coming in contact with harmful bacteria or viruses if the water is ingested. EPA Standards
If a sample comes back “high,” it means there is more E coli in the water than is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards and that it may be unsafe to swim in the water. If this is the case, those who manage the beach will be notified and a sign should be posted warning swimmers of the closure.
Additional Reasoning for Beach Closures
It is still safe for people to lay on the beach or picnic on the beach at this time, but many who do this often ignore the warning signs and continue to swim because it doesn’t appear that anything is wrong with the water. This may be dangerous, especially for young children who are more likely to swallow water at some point during swimming. If enough water is ingested, it could lead to many types of gastro-intestinal problems, including diarrhea, vomiting and cramping.