What you need to know about Lake Erie's water quality before taking a dip

Posted at 4:17 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 18:03:43-04

Under the hot summer sun, you may find some relief at a beach. There are a lot in Northeast Ohio, but do you know what to look for, to make sure that water you’re swimming in is clean?

While today’s swimming conditions are good at Edgewater Park, they aren’t always.

“It wasn’t a good place to come. We heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of things coming ashore and stuff, so we just kind of stayed away from it,” said Shen Frieson who spent the Fourth of July swimming with his family at Edgewater Park.

Cleveland natives, like Frieson have seen the lake come a long way. On days like the Fourth, they appreciate signs like one at Edgewater Park, notifying swimmers of the water quality. On the Fourth, it was good and a green flag flew to notify visitors.

“It kind of makes people feel secure about coming versus not really knowing what’s going on in the water so I think that’s pretty cool,” said Frieson.

“It always looks very, very clean there’s no trash on the beach, they do a wonderful job of maintaining that area,” said Ryan Hagenbuch who lives just up the road from Edgewater beach.

A majority of the bacteria in lakes comes from runoff, which could include everything from animal feces to motor oil.

Hagenbuch, who visits the beach at Edgewater daily, tries to know what the water will be like before he hits the beach with his dog Bence.

“It’s very helpful and I try to be aware of what the current conditions are,” he said.

After a heavy rainfall, conditions are likely to change with runoff making its way to water.

Beach visitors can check to see if their beach is closed or at risk of closing at The Ohio Department of Health Beach Guard, a map updated every day monitoring bacteria and algal toxins. Another option is published by The U.S. Geological Survey, the Ohio Nowcast looks at overall water quality at Lake Erie beaches.