The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 3, 2014

Ashtabula Township’s Lake Shore Park one of nation’s dirtiest beaches

— It’s summer. It’s beach season. But before you grab your towel and suntan lotion, you might want to check the water quality at your favorite beach.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 24th annual “Testing the Waters” report, one of Ashtabula County’s beaches has a water pollution problem.

Lake Shore Park in Ashtabula Township has garnered the dubious designation of making the top 17 list of most contaminated U.S. beaches.

In fact, 10 percent of water samples collected from U.S. beaches failed to meet the government benchmark for swimmer safety.

Clean beaches are important, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Up to 3.5 million people get sick from poor water treatment each year, largely because of contact with raw sewage and contaminated runoff water.

On order for Lake Shore Park (or any other beach) to qualify for the NRDC’s most contaminated list, a beach has failed to meet public standards for water quality more than 25 percent of the time since 2009.

Turns out, the state of Ohio is the biggest offender of dirty beaches, with the following beaches on the list: Lake Shore Park in Ashtabula County, Arcadia Beach in Cuyahoga County, Euclid State Park in Cuyahoga County, Noble Beach in Cuyahoga County, Sims Beach in Cuyahoga County, Villa Angela State Park in Cuyahoga County and Edson Creek in Erie County.

Lake Shore Park is unique in that it is bowl-shaped and spillage from wastewater treatment plants, State Road runoff, pet waste from neighborhood yards, Canada geese guano and other numerous sources of pollution raises levels of illness-causing bacteria in the beach water, according to the 2013 report from the NRDC.

Michael Wayman, chairman of the Ashtabula Township Park Commission, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

In a June 2013 interview, Wayman said he’s talked with the Ohio EPA, and the Ashtabula County Health Department about possible solutions.

The good news is Lake Shore Park offers more than a swimming area. There are several covered pavilions, a rock garden, picnic tables, ducks and peacocks, a boat launch, bait shop, clean restrooms and well-manicured grounds.

So, what can beach-goers do?

Strictly swimming in NRDC’s best-rated beaches is a good idea, but unfortunately, none of the best beaches are in Ohio.

The best beaches include Alabama’s gulf shores, Virginia Beach, Georgia’s Tybee Island, Newport Beach in California, Florida’s Fort De Soto North Beach, several beaches in Hawaii and more.

For the full list of tested waters, go to http://www.nrdc.org/beaches.

The NRDC also suggests swimmers stay away from any beach with warning signs advising you to stay out of the water because of a high bacteria count. Lake Shore Park posts such warnings on its beach.

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