Chicago- Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn proposed a 10-point “Clean Beach Initiative” today, encouraging citizens to adopt a beach and help prevent E. coli bacteria from causing swimming bans that have plagued Lake Michigan’s beaches this summer. Quinn is the chairman of the Illinois delegation to the Great Lakes Commission, an environmental group of eight states and two Canadian provinces, charged with protecting the health of the Great Lakes.
Quinn was joined by Stephanie Smith who runs Lake Michigan Federation’s Adopt-A-Beach Program, and Don Gordon, Chair of the 49th Ward Parks and Beaches Advisory Council. Also attending was Jon Schmidt, Service Learning Manager for Chicago Public Schools.
The Clean Beach Initiative urges 4th of July beach-goers to avoid feeding seagulls and to properly dispose of litter in waste receptacles. The most likely source of E. coli bacteria on beaches comes from the droppings of seagulls drawn to beaches by human food handouts and litter.
“The people of Illinois have a constitutional right to a healthful environment. If we all do our part to pick up our trash, clean up after our dogs, and avoid feeding the seagulls, we can reduce the E. coli bacteria and keep our beaches open,” Quinn said, noting that Chicago’s 30 beaches receive 27 million visits per year and are a major tourist attraction.
Montrose Beach is a popular beach which has suffered a large number of beach closings due to E. coli bacteria this year. Seagull droppings, human and animal wastes, and trash all contribute to beach closings.
Bacteria levels can also increase after heavy rains and flooding due to large quantities of water overwhelming the sewer system. To reduce stormwater runoff at home, individuals should delay activities during storms that require a lot of water such as washing dishes or doing laundry.
“Everyday citizens can reduce the number of beach closings by following the suggestions in the Clean Beach Initiative,” Quinn said. “We can also do our part by joining the Adopt-A-Beach program, in which concerned citizens conduct beach monitoring and monthly cleanups.”
As Lieutenant Governor, Quinn is also chairman of the Illinois River Coordinating Council, a group of citizens and not-for-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, sportsmen and river enthusiasts. Much of the Illinois River watershed draws water from Lake Michigan. To learn more, visit www.cleanwater.il.gov.