CHICAGO (CBS) — A state website designed to track beach closings in Illinois shows some popular beaches are closed, even though they appear to be open.
So the CBS 2 Morning Insiders wanted to know if swimmers are at risk, or if the information is wrong.
Lifeguards on duty, sandcastles under construction, swimmers splashing in Lake Michigan. Rainbow Beach certainly looked open last week as the July 4th holiday weekend approached.
“Lately I’ve been coming for like the last four or five days now, because it’s been nice out,” Rosemona White said as she visited Rainbow Beach with her family.
However, the Illinois BeachGuard System website showed Rainbow Beach has been closed for more than 300 days, due to high bacteria levels found in the water in September.
White said that confusion might stop someone from visiting the beach, even though the Chicago Park District website confirms Rainbow Beach is open.
“They probably have plans to come here, then they see online that it’s closed, and it’s really not. So, yeah, that’s kind of wrong,” she said.
The unsettling lack of an update since Sept. 3 had CBS 2 wondering about the accuracy of other beach closings listed on the BeachGuard site.
Take Illinois Beach State Park’s south beach. Has it really been closed since May 30?
A representative reached by phone said the beach was open, despite an email from the Lake County Health Department confirming it is closed due to construction.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said data entry for the BeachGuard site is the responsibility of beach monitors; usually the corresponding county’s health department, or the local park district.
For Rainbow Beach, the Chicago Park District is supposed to keep that information up to date. While its own website shows the beach is open, it hasn’t updated the BeachGuard information in more than 300 days.
A spokesperson blamed a technical glitch, and said the Chicago Park District is working with the state to get the correct information onto BeachGuard.