With summer activities shifting into full gear, Hoosiers may be planning visits to the beaches ofNorthwest Indiana. Now, visitors can be notified of beach conditions and closings due to E. coli, which can make water unhealthy for swimming and other recreational activities, directly on mobile devices.
New for 2011, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) launched BeachesAlert to monitor conditions and provide alerts for public and private beaches in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Kosciusko counties. According to IDEM, the new service supplements the existing online BeachGuard System, which compiles beaches' water quality data from mid-May through mid-September. In the past, many beach enthusiasts have had the experience of discovering current advisories or closings after reaching their destination.
Indiana's BeachesAlert mobile website now provides real-time information throughout the season. The mobile website and subscription services interact with mobile phones for updates while on the go. The new tool can be accessed on a mobile device at www.IN.gov/beachesalert.
"Our agency strives to provide useful information to Hoosiers in new and exciting ways," said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. "Indiana BeachesAlert gives Hoosiers and out-of-state visitor's access to reliable and up-to-date water quality information, so they can more fully enjoy Indiana's beautiful beaches."
E. coli is a type of bacteria found in human and animal waste. IDEM reports that during rainfalls or snow melts, E. coli may be washed into creeks, rivers, streams, lakes or ground water, putting swimmers at risk. Swimming related illnesses are typically minor, including ear, eye, nose and throat infections, while the most common form of illness suffered after swimming in sewage tainted waters is gastroenteritis. Those most vulnerable to illness from poor water quality are children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
For more information about the Indiana Beaches program, including testing data from previous years, visit www.idem.IN.gov/beaches.
IDEM, established in 1986, implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and the environment. Visitwww.idem.IN.gov to learn more.