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City ranks low in beach water quality

A new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council says Illinois ranks 27th among the 30 coastal states for beach water quality — and some Evanston beaches are among the worst in the state.


A new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council says Illinois ranks 27th among the 30 coastal states for beach water quality — and some Evanston beaches are among the worst in the state.

The study analyzes the number of times Great Lakes or ocean beaches were closed because of high bacteria levels last year.

For Illinois overall, 15 percent of samples exceeded national standards. Four of seven beaches in Evanston were above that mark.

The percentage of samples tested that exceeded the limit at Evanston beaches were:

  • South Boulevard beach — 32 percent.
  • Northwestern University beach — 31 percent.
  • Greenwood Street beach — 19 percent.
  • Lee Street beach — 18 percent.
  • Church Street dog beach — 15 percent.
  • Clark Street beach — 11 percent.
  • Lighthouse beach — 9 percent.

Some other beaches on the North Shore have even worse water quality problems than Evanston — with the worst at the North Point Marina North Beach in Lake County, which was closed because of pollution problems 61 percent of the time last year. Next was Winnetka’s Elder Park Beach, closed 33 percent of the time.

The full report on Illinois beaches is available online, as is data for the rest of the nation.

The NRDC says aging and poorly designed sewer systems are responsible for most beach pollution. The report calls for new federal regulations to improve beach water quality.

The City of Evanston posts beach status reports to its website every day, and today’s report shows that South Boulevard beach is closed today because of high bacteria levels.

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