If you and your family/friends go to the beach this summer only to find that it is closed on a beautiful day, the beach water you were so tempted to wade in is probably contaminated.
(Watch the video version of this article in 1080 HD below!)
The Natural Resources Defense Council marked 2011 as the 3rd highest in the past 22 years of beach closings in the U.S. Why is this? Excessive bacteria found in beach water, mostly from human and animal waste, forced more than two-thirds of the closings.
How many people are actually affected by this bacterial threat? Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), up to 3.5 million people become ill from contact with raw sewage from sanitary sewer overflows each year.
This infographic shows all states with beaches and the percentage of their beaches that were closed in 2011. As you can see, Florida has only 3 percent of its beaches listed as having been closed in 2011. This puts it in 5th place out of the fifty states for having clean beach water. Delaware, New Hampshire, North Carolina and New Jersey are the only states with better percentages. Ohio and Louisiana have the worst percentages at 22 and 29 percent respectively.
So, what does this do to Gainesville beach-goers? Well, the good news is that no beach within 3-4 hours of driving distance has any pollutants currently. The few affected beaches in Florida are currently up in the panhandle and far south. So, get your swimwear, umbrellas, and surfboards while you still have vacation time. The water is safe!