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New research shows Erie County beaches have the most "unsafe beach days" in the state

Posted at 5:07 PM, Jul 24, 2019

According to a new study from Environment America, beaches in Erie County are among the dirtiest in New York State.

There are three Western New York counties in the top five counties by average percentage of potentially unsafe beach days. They are:

Erie County: 30%
Chautauqua County: 25%
Niagara County: 24%
Monroe County: 21%
Jefferson County: 15%

The bad news is yes, according to a recent report, Erie County beaches had unsafe levels of contamination 30% of the time the waters were tested last year.

The good news is these beaches - like Benett Beach - are tested every day for possible contaminants. If the tests come back positive, the beach is closed.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr.Gale Burstein said they follow beach water testing protocols as per the New York State Sanitary Code.

She added that they follow a scientific predictive model to predict when the beaches may be unsafe, based on rain the turbidity of the water.

"We do the testing very early in the morning to make sure that the beach operators have the relevant information by the time the beach is scheduled to open," she said.

The local beaches and the county health department work together to make sure everybody's in the know about the daily test results.

But what causes the contamination? Dr. Burstein said it's usually weather related.

"When it rains we actually have a sewer plants right over there. So when the creek floods we see normally really high levels. And when it's wavy - when it gets stirred up," said Pauley.

But Julie Boisen of West Seneca said she isn't going to let all that deter her from enjoying a nice day.

"I just feel like they do close them when they're really bad. I also feel like wherever you go there's a chance that there's some kind of contamination," she said.

Dr. Burstein said the cleanup process is a pretty natural process. They rely on the natural water flow to clear the possible contamination.