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Park District Turn To DNA Testing To Determine Cause Of Poopy Montrose Beach Water

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 18, 2014 2:45PM

Photo credit: Irina Hynes

Montrose Beach is one of the more popular beaches on Chicago’s lakefront but the water quality there is among the worst on the lakefront. According to data collected from the Natural Resources Defense Council, 31 percent of water samples pulled from Montrose Beach exceeded the EPA’s Beach Action Values in 2013. (This data was used in Curbed Chicago’s ranking of the five dirtiest beaches in Chicago.)

One cause for the dirty water is fecal matter. You have gulls circling above the water looking for food scraps left behind by beachgoers. Another possible cause for the dirty water: dogs. The dog beach at Montrose is one of the most popular destinations for canines to frolic in the city and not every dog owner is courteous about picking up after their pets.

The Chicago Park District is working with the U.S. Geological Survey and using DNA testing of fecal matter in water samples to determine the extent dog and gull poop are contributing to the water quality at Montrose and three other beaches along the lakefront—63rd Street; Calumet; and Rainbow Beach. The Tribune notes border collies at 63rd Street beach have helped improve the water quality there by keeping the gulls at bay. And while the Park District is concerned if Montrose dog beach is a contributing factor to its water quality, the same can’t be said of Foster Avenue beach a couple miles north.

The Park District reminded dog owners and beachgoers to help by picking up after their dogs and leaving behind no food scraps for the gulls.