At least 12 Ohio public beaches — six along Lake Erie and one in Fulton County — have swimming advisories in effect because of excessive bacteria as the Memorial Day weekend kicks into gear.
But the bigger question might be what hasn’t been detected yet.
Sampling results from the Ohio Department of Health are not yet available for several beaches, including Maumee Bay State Park’s inland and Lake Erie beaches, which have historically had problems with bacteria.
Those with known problems, according to health department records posted online, include Lakeside Beach in Ottawa County; Edson Creek, Whites Landing, and Kiwanis beaches in Erie County, and both Edgewater and Villa Angela beaches. The latter two are operated by Cleveland Metroparks.
Another area beach with excessive bacteria is Harrison Lake in Fulton County
The other five with swimming advisories are in Grand Lake St. Marys in Auglaize County, the largest lake completely within Ohio, and at lakes in Mahoning, Madison, and Portage counties.
The state health department posts swim advisories when E. coli bacteria in water samples is high enough to make people sick. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly advised against swimming in those conditions.
The frequency of testing varies at each site.
A Web site developed in recent years, Ohio Nowcast, ohionowcast.info, provides daily forecasts of beach conditions at a select number of sites in the Lake Erie region. Conditions can change hourly based on wind, temperature, and precipitation.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency records also showed advisories in effect around Grand Lake St. Marys for excessive growth of microcystin, a toxic form of algae that usually starts to bloom in western Lake Erie in late summer.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokesman Matt Eiselstein said measurements are still being calculated, but the readings are “definitely over the safety level.”
Officials will be on the lookout for more of that algae as the summer progresses, especially in western Lake Erie and the tributaries that flow into it, such as the Maumee and Sandusky rivers.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6079.