Chicago Park District Utilizing New, Quicker Method for Testing Lake Water

Posted in: United States Water News, Water quality, Water Technology
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Photo credit: myfoxchicago

Article courtesy of Alexa Helms | May 21, 2015 | myfoxchicago | Shared as educational material

Chicago beaches officially open Friday for the Memorial Day weekend.

And this year, the Chicago Park District is taking extra precautions with new science to ensure our water is safe to swim in.

People are counting the minutes until they can enjoy the water and our gorgeous lakefront beaches. But some Chicagoans plan to keep their distance and stay on the sand.

“I’d rather just not go in water, where I don’t know what’s in there. I think its sick, it can be contaminated with something,” said Chicagoan Maritza Lagunas.

To protect the public, the Chicago Park District is adding another layer of monitoring to five beaches. It’s called ‘Rapid Water Testing,’ and it can tell if the water is unhealthy in just a few hours.

The old method took nearly a full day.

“We’re still also using predictive modeling as well, where we get a real time prediction of what the water is like now. And at the pilot locations, we’ll have a rapid test where we can give you results the same day,” said Cathy Breitenbach of the Chicago Park District.

Carroll Christie said he’s seen the red flags go up in the past and it’s concerning. However, he’s happy to know the city will now have same day results.

“I think that’s great I would want to feel safe going into the water and I don’t want to end up with a sore throat or anything sicker than that,” Christie said.

A number of things contribute to water contamination, from storm runoff to seagulls.

“With so much wildlife using the beach, and with birds and with lots of people, the tests we’re taking provide you with a sense of how great that risk is,” Breitenbach added.

Leaving your trash on the beach or feeding birds affects water quality as well. The biggest source of bacteria is waste from seagulls, so don’t leave trash around.

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