Chicago River

Evanston beaches closed due to ‘elevated and unsafe E. coli levels' following Chicago River reversal

Evanston beaches remain closed, as most Chicago beaches reopened Monday

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Chicago Park District reopened all but one of its beaches just after 11 a.m. Monday, but Evanston's beaches largely remained closed after the decision was made to allow water from the Chicago RIver to flow into Lake Michigan Sunday.

That decision was made amid heavy rains and flash flooding in the city and suburbs, with locks in Wilmette and in downtown Chicago opened for several hours to help lower water levels on the river.

Such reversals are rare, but ultimately lead to some untreated wastewater being allowed to enter Lake Michigan. As a result, some spikes in E. Coli and other bacteria are often observed.

Nearly every Chicago beach closed Sunday because of unsafe bacteria levels in the water, but Marion Mahoney Griffin Beach remained closed Monday afternoon following the collection of water samples, according to park district officials.

Beaches in Evanston remained closed to swimming due to the potential for elevated and unsafe E. coli levels in the water following the river reversal, authorities said.

When this happens, it triggers an immediate closing of all City of Evanston swimming areas for at least 24 hours, according to city officials.

The sand portion of the beach remains open.

Doctors say people who are immunocompromised and children are especially at risk for complications from bacteria in the water.

"E. coli causes a foodborne illness-like illness. Things like stomach upset, nausea, fevers or feeling tired," said Dr. Evelyn Huang, an emergency medicine physician at Northwestern.

"[People] should see their doctor if they’re having symptoms for a prolonged amount of time," said Dr. Huang. "I warn people to come in if they are getting dehydrated, having prolonged fevers or not acting like themselves."

Despite early warnings, people packed Ohio Street beach Monday afternoon.

"When we first got here, we had to wait for a long time to get in the water until the lifeguard told us it was okay," said 10-year-old Dexter Rovish from Wisconsin.

Rovish had hoped to visit the beach Sunday, but his family extended their trip into Monday after rain spoiled their weekend plans.

Both Evanston and Chicago update beach statuses online.

Contact Us