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Great Lakes Article:


E. coli surge shuts 6 S. Side beaches
By Andrew Harrmann
Chicago Sun Times
Published July 14, 2005


Swimming was banned Wednesday at six city beaches because of high E. coli counts in the water.

Officials from the Chicago Park District today will look at results of tests taken Wednesday to determine whether people may return to swimming in Lake Michigan at Calumet, Rainbow, South Shore, 63rd, 31st and 12th Street beaches.

There have been 29 swimming bans this year, slightly fewer than last summer at this time, Park District spokeswoman Michele Jones said.

Last summer, there were 128 swimming bans, two fewer than in summer 2003.

What caused the E. coli levels to jump was unknown, Jones said. But generally, there are four factors: high temperatures, heavy rain, low lake levels and animal waste, she said.

Temperatures this week have been in the 80s, with only a random sprinkling of rain. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' combined report on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron finds water levels down about 7 inches from last July.

Increasingly, experts are pointing to waste from seagulls as the E. coli culprit. Experts note that as recently as 1970, there were about 300,000 nesting pairs for the entire Great Lakes. That has grown now to 800,000.

The Chicago Park District is trying to dissuade birds from landing by stringing wire 15 feet above popular avian resting spots along the lakefront.

Signs are being posted at beaches instructing people not to feed the birds.

The signs also ask that beachgoers throw food wrappers and other picnic garbage into waste cans because the refuse can attract birds.

Contributing: Lori Rackl

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