When you take your annual Labor Day trip to the beach, will it be safe to go in the water? Ocean and lakefront beaches across the United States reported 20,000 closings in 2004 due to hazardous water conditions. This the highest number since the Natural Resources Defense Council started keeping track 15 years ago. The NRDC’s Nancy Stoner says, “Instead of closing our beaches, let’s clean up the water.”

According to Stoner, “Authorities?need to stop the pollution at its source by repairing and replacing leaky sewage and septic systems, and cleaning up contaminated runoff.” Most of the closings were caused by dangerously high bacteria levels, indicating the presence of human or animal waste. Housing developments built along formerly pristine lakes and beaches can be part of the problem. Pesticides and pet feces from lawns are common contaminants. Ocean beaches can also become contaminated by cruise ships?something that’s hard to control.

The state with the biggest jump in closings from 2003 to 2004 is Texas, which increased its beach closings over 1,000%. After that comes Washington (a 700% increase in closings), Maryland (400%), Minnesota (330%), Michigan (175%) and Illinois (100%).Hawaii went from no closing or advisory days in 2003 to 1,170 in 2004; Maine went from none in 2003 to 56 in 2004.

Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Maybe we should stay home and have a barbecue instead. Whether you stay home or take a trip, you can still listen to your favorite Dreamland shows, if you subscribe today, because subscribers can download Dreamland to an MP3 disc and listen in their cars. When you go to the beach, be sure to take along a wonderful book, and in our amazingwebsite store, you?ll find a huge selection of books you won’t find anywhere else.

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