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Study: Erie County beaches have the most "unsafe beach days" in New York State

Posted at 8:10 PM, Jul 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-23 20:10:15-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Beaches in Erie County have the dubious distinction of being among the dirtiest in New York State, according to a new study from Environment America.

The study looked at the average number of "unsafe beach days" at beaches across the country-- including coastal beaches, Great Lakes beaches, and beaches in Puerto Rico.

On average in 2018, when tested, Erie County beaches had potentially unsafe levels of contamination 30% of the time. That is the highest percentage for any county in New York State.

But Erie County is not alone-- 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%

One Erie County beach-- Woodlawn Beach-- had the second highest number of unsafe days in New York State. Woodlawn Beach State Park had 47 unsafe beach days in 2018.

Environment America reports fecal contamination makes beaches unsafe for swimming. This kind of contamination can be caused by urban runoff, sewage overflows, and livestock operations.

Each year, about 57 million cases of waterborne illness are reported among U.S. swimmers.

You can read the full study and explore the interactive map on Environment America's website.