While local officials wrangle with Governor John Kasich about turning over three state-run beaches — Edgewater, Euclid, and Villa Angela — to the Metroparks in hopes of better maintenance, it’s easy to miss a fine point: No number of improved restrooms, new grills and picnic benches, or more frequent trash pickup will make these beaches actually good for getting in the water.
In fact, Euclid Beach and Villa Angela rate among the 20 most contaminated swimming venues in the country, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council report issued a couple weeks ago.
What’s the water contaminated with?
Shit, basically. Our aging storm sewer system burps every now and then, especially when it rains. When that happens, it overflows the sanitary sewers before spewing the toxic mix into Lake Erie through drains placed inconveniently close to these three beaches.
The water at each beach is tested every day, and Villa Angela is the worst; the water is unfit for bathing half the time. Euclid Beach is next up with 43 of every 100 tests showing dangerous bacteria levels. Edgewater comes in with just over a quarter of its daily water tests signaling caution.
Warning signs should be posted anytime the water is crawling with the creepy things normally found in poop; but according to current standards, the water is deemed safe if only one in 28 people might get sick from being in it.
Staph infections of the skin and eyes, rashes, and — if you swallow the water — hepatitis and meningitis could be yours if you swim on the wrong day.
But there is some good news along the North Shore as the most sweltering days of summer approach. Some of our beaches rate pretty well. Bay Village’s Huntington Beach shows contaminated water only 12 percent of the time and nearby Columbia Park beach is contaminated 13 percent of the time.
The east beach at Headlands in Mentor does okay with a 12-percent contamination rate, and the western end runs at about 15 percent.
If you want cleaner water than that, you will have to head to the islands: Beaches on both Kelleys and South Bass are typically contamination free.
Evidently, Islanders keep shit to themselves.