Swimmers willing to do a little surfing on the Internet can find out a few things about some Great Lakes beaches they might visit in the summer.
The Great Lakes Commission, a nonpartisan group in Ann Arbor consisting of legislators, government officials, and gubernatorial appointees from eight states, has established a web site that lists background information about beaches in the Great Lakes region. The address is www.glc.org/monitoring/beaches.
Visitors to the site can find trend data, including the number of dates beaches have been closed or had swimming advisories posted, as well as how often they are sampled for pollutants.
“It's more for trend-tracking,” Julie Wagemakers, commission spokesman, said. “It's kind of an analysis of how we're doing with Great Lakes beach health.”
The site was recently developed because the Great Lakes region has been selected as a pilot site for a national beach monitoring program established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The federal survey will assess the consistency of beach closure and restriction advisories. More information will be presented at the U.S. EPA's annual Great Lakes Beach Conference scheduled for Feb. 6-8 in Chicago.
Eventually, the commission would like to be able to use the site for forecasting beach conditions on a daily basis, Ms. Wagemakers said.
“We'd like to get to that point, but I don't think we're there yet,” she said.