The Natural Resources Defense Council is making the scheduling of this summer’s beach trips a whole lot easier, at least in the way of telling you where to go and, more importantly, where to avoid. In an annual report released on Wednesday, the organization listed the dirtiest and cleanest beaches in the United States, sampling over 3,500 locations. They even have an interactive map that shares details about each and every location. Why is this important? More than 10% of the sampled beaches failed EPA standards for safety — and that is disgusting.
Now, what constitutes a “healthy” beach (or, again, a place where you won’t contract a slew of nasty illnesses)? A healthy beach is the kind that will not have you walking away as another horrifying EPA statistic clumped in with the 3.5 million people who get sick each year from free-flowing drainage and the raw sewage it introduces into our waterways. Ever notice an influx of pink eye following oceanside or lake house retreats? It’s likely not from your friends farting on your pillows, or whatever Seth Rogen and crew might have convinced you of Knocked Up. Don’t worry, there is a list of “superstar” beaches that will make planning even easier.
How do we proceed? According to the NRDC, it starts by taking care of your own beach: capture stormwater before it carries pollution to our shores, reusing it for landscape irrigation; incorporate green infrastructure allowing rainwater to filter back into the ground where it falls or evaporate into the air; demand that pollution control officials require that these smart techniques be used at runoff sources; and once you hit the sand, help keep our beaches clean by picking up pet waste, putting swim diapers with plastic covers on babies, and keeping trash off the beach. The NRDC also wants to take this newfound granular awareness to the next level by putting forth a more concentrated effort to clean up the streams and wetlands connect beaches, as many are still not protected under the Clean Water Act.
Get more information on Testing The Waters 2014 from NRDC.org.