As schools close for the year and summer weather beckons, many recreationalists head to the Great Lakes' public beaches. However, these coastal areas can become contaminated with disease-causing bacteria that threaten public health, disrupt water recreation, and pay a toll on the Great Lakes economies that depend on summer tourism.
The U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Beach Health initiative provides science-based information and methods that help beach managers make more accurate beach closure and advisory decisions, preventing unnecessary beach closures while protecting public health.
Similar to weather forecasts, the USGS Ohio Nowcast system uses near real-time information to estimate water-quality conditions and E. coli concentrations at specific beaches in Ohio. It uses mathematical models that are developed from several years of measurements taken at particular sites.