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Porter, IN: The National Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) recently released Testing the Waters 2011 Report shows that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beaches are rarely affect by pollution and are among the cleanest beaches in Indiana. Two Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beach sites have had only one day of health advisory in 2010. Mt. Baldy, Lake View, Central, and the other Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore rarely exceed standards and are at the bottom of the list in terms of days of non-attainment.
The NRDC report focuses primarily on water quality related to bacteria. The report highlights closures, advisories, and notices issued at beaches that exceed standards. The NRDC reported findings on 31 Indiana Beaches.
The report shows that the average number of advisories or closures for Indiana Beaches was 31, with the highest being Jerose Beach at 78 days. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beaches West Beach and Porter Beach, had the lowest number of days of advisories: only one day each. In fact, no Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beach site exceeded five days of advisories in 2010, except Mt. Baldy which had six days. So far in 2011, there have been no health advisories at any Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beaches except at Porter and Dunbar on May 25.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Costa Dillon commented on the findings: "We are pleased to see that the national lakeshore beaches remain the cleanest in the region and are safe for visitors the majority of time." Even so," he added, "any day a beach exceeds standards is not a good sign and we have a long way to go to clean the waters that pollute the beaches."
Safe water advisories at the national lakeshore are due to high levels of the bacteria E. coli. Much of this contamination comes from sewage overflows after major rain storms. The National Park Service is working with the State of Indiana and local governments to improve storm water management systems to reduce this type of public health risk.
According to the Indiana BeachGuard website, Indiana beaches have had 726 closures and advisories since 2008, only 27 of those were National Park Service beaches: less than 4% of the Indiana total.