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August 7, 2006

Swim at your own risk

It’s hot. Not “well, duh, it’s August” hot, I mean really hot. I mean having a barbeque in Zimbabwe hot. But this isn’t a global warming blog, I leave that to the more-than-capable climate bloggers. I’m an oceans guy and this blog is about the oceans, or rather, the beaches.

If you’re like me, you endure the baking temperatures by reminding yourself that the beach is only a work week away. The thought of a dip in the Chesapeake Bay, helps me feel a little cooler (but just a little). So it’s no surprise that last week’s Washington Post article on the Bay’s pollution caught my eye.

Natural Resources Defense Council released a report after documenting more than 20,000 days of ocean, bay and Great Lakes beach closures and advisories nationwide last year. I was saddened, but not surprised, to learn that more than 40 Maryland beaches, including several on the bay, violated public health standards at least a quarter of the times they were tested. In fact, the water is so dirty that public health officials warn people who swim in it to wash with soap afterward and to avoid entering the water with an open wound.

Instead of having to clean myself after swimming in the bay, I’d prefer it if we just cleaned up the bay itself. And apparently so would NRDC. It’s suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to modernize the beachwater health standards as ordered by Congress six years ago. That would be one jury duty I’d look forward to.