Some of the swankiest neighborhoods around Chicago ranked the worst when it comes to their beaches.
Evanston, Winnetka and Northwestern University were all at the bottom the list, according to an environmental group's annual report on beach quality.
Some Cook County and Lake County beaches violate public swimming standards one in every three days, and that means many beachgoers may be exposing themselves to the risk of serious illness.
In fact, the group says that Great Lakes beach samples consistently show E. coli levels at twice that of the national rate.
The report singles out Chicago as a shining example for the rest of the country, though not because of cleanliness. While they're relatively cleaner than those in the rest of the region, the frequent water testing and monitoring are policies other regions could adopt.
Earning the lowest ranking beaches in the area:
- North Point Marina North
- Winnetka Elder Park Beach
- Evanston South Beach
- Northwestern University Beach
- Waukegan South Beach
The Chicago Park District, which oversees the city's beaches, banned swimming at 37 beaches last year, the Chicago Tribune reported. There were 83 closed beaches in 2007 and 79 closed beaches in 2006.
The National Resources Defense Council says two times to avoid the beach are immediately after a rain storm or if you have cuts or scrapes on your body.
The best beaches in the nation include those in Delaware, New Hampshire, Virginia, Alaska, North Carolina and Hawaii.