BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Your local beach might be a lot dirtier than you think.
According to a report by Environment America, three quarters of the beaches along the Great Lakes had at least one potentially unsafe day in 2018.
Of all the beaches in western New York, Erie County’s were the worst. In Erie, 30 percent of the surveyed days were regarded to be potentially unsafe for swimmers.
Niagara and Chautauqua didn’t fall far behind though, rating at 25 and 24 percent, respectively.
Woodlawn Beach, a popular destination, was one of the worst offenders for swimming hazards. Of the 104 sampled days, 47 were determined to be potentially unsafe; That’s nearly half of the days.
In other parts of western New York, Wilson-Tuscarora State Park Beach in Niagara County and Sunset Bay Beach Club in Chautauqua County were examples of places with many potentially unsafe days.
What made these places so unsafe for swimming though? Bacteria.
And the place a lot of it comes from? Poop.
Fecal contamination can result in gastrointestinal sickness, as well as respiratory disease, rashes, and infections of the eye and ear, the report says.
People aren’t just relieving themselves in the water, though. Much of the fecal matter is a result of “urban runoff, sewage leaks and overflows, and industrial-scale livestock operations,” the study says.
And it’s not just the Great Lakes where this is a problem.
The report notes that swimmers across the U.S suffer from approximately “57 million cases of recreational waterborne illness” every year.
“More than half of the thousands of beach sites sampled for bacteria across the country were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2018,” the report said.
As it was noted above, 75 percent of beaches along the Great Lakes had at least one potentially unsafe day, but that statistic is even higher for beaches along the Gulf Coast — 85 percent.
The West Coast ranked at 67 percent, while the East Coast fared the best at 48 percent.
Environment America is encouraging people to take action by telling Congress to do more to protect the nation’s beaches.
The report, and specific data about each surveyed beach, can be found here.