The National Resources Defense Council has issued a study called Testing The Waters, which discusses their annual survey of water quality on U.S. beaches. Maryland residents may be surprised to find that three beaches in Rock Hall – Bay Country Campground and Beach, Ferry Park, and Rock Hall Beach – violated federal water standards at least fifty percent of the time they were tested.
The NRDC estimates that at least 7 million Americans get sick each year swimming in polluted ocean water. The Great Lakes are even worse, as experts estimate that 11% of swimmers who put their heads underwater experience gastrointestinal problems.
If you’re headed to the beach in the last weeks of summer, be sure to follow NRDC’s advice on how to select a clean one:
- If possible, choose beaches that are next to open waters or away from urban areas. They typically pose less of a health risk than beaches in developed areas or in enclosed bays and harbors with little water circulation.
- Look for pipes along the beach that drain stormwater runoff from the streets, and don’t swim near them.
- Avoid swimming in beachwater that is cloudy or smells bad.
- Keep your head out of the water.
- Avoid swimming for at least 24 hours after heavy rains (which can wash pollution into the water).
- Contact local health officials if you suspect beachwater contamination so that others can be protected from exposure.