CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago beaches open for the summer on Friday, and the Park District says this year, you can expect to see fewer days when swimming is forbidden.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, up until this year, when the Chicago Park District forbade swimming at a particular beach because of high e. coli bacteria levels, it was really using bacteria information from the day before. It took 18 hours to get bacteria testing results.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
This year, the Park District will use a more up-to-date and almost real-time computer-generated method for estimating bacteria levels. The Park District will then let swimmers decide if they want to go into the water.
Laura Agapay was at the 63rd Street Beach Wednesday morning. She said the new policy makes sense.
“It seems like a fine thing, I guess, if people understand that, you know, nobody really knows what they’re swimming in today,” Agapay said.
The Park District will still ban swimming when sewage is released into the lake after a heavy rainfall, or because of high waves or lightning.
Chicago beaches officially open on Friday, and volunteers were out Wednesday to pick up trash at North Avenue Beach.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports
Sean Morgan, of Lemont, was among the volunteers using poles to pick up trash they didn’t want to touch with their hands.
“It’s pretty gross, actually,” he said.
Morgan has volunteered to clean up North Avenue Beach before, and has found a few surprises in the sand.
“The most surprising I found out here one time was a wedding ring, actually. So, we had to just kind of turn that into the Park District and let them take that back to the lost and found,” he said.
As people on trash patrol picked stuff up, beachgoers watched – like Sofia Molin, who’s here from Ireland.
“This is pretty good compared to Ireland. There’s no bins on the beaches in Ireland. At least you have bins here,” she siad.
What’s clean to someone from Ireland seems to be dirty to someone from Baltimore, like beachgoer Matt Vaselkiv, who damned North Avenue Beach with faint praise.
“It’s good… It could be cleaner. I’m used to going to the beach on the Eastern Shore, and it’s not quite that, but for a city beach it’s not bad,” Vaselkiv said.
As for East Coast beaches, he said, “You never see trash on the beach.”
Chicago beaches open Friday and stay open until September 3.