The water at American beaches was unsafe for swimming a record number of days last year, according to the 17th annual beach water quality report released Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Using data just collected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the report, "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches,"� tallied more than 25,000 closing and health advisory days at ocean, bay and Great Lakes beaches in 2006. The number of no-swim days caused by stormwater more than doubled from the year before. Click here for the full report.
"Vacations are being ruined. Families can't use the beaches in their own communities because they are polluted. Kids are getting sick "� all because of sewage and contaminated runoff from outdated, under-funded treatment systems,"� said Nancy Stoner, director of NRDC's water program.
In addition to compiling data on 3,500 U.S. beaches, the report this year takes an especially close look at the nation's highest risk beaches--those that are either very popular, very close to pollution sources, or both. Two of the unhealthiest beaches were on the Chesapeake Bay--Hacks Point in Cecil County and Bay Shore Campground and Beach in Kent County.
To check water quality at 100 of the most popular beaches in the U.S., visit the NRDC Your Oceans website.
You can also check Earth 911 for the latest water quality and beach reports.
The Baltimore Sun reports that so far this year, Maryland's 81 coastal beaches are failing water-quality standards at about the same rate as last year.
What are your beaches like?
Chesapeake Bay Foundation