The Illinois Clean Marina Program celebrated its one year anniversary last month by certifying DuSable Harbor as the newest clean marina—bringing the state total to six.
The harbors earned their clean marina status by implementing a series of best management practices that make marina operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. Practices cover a range of topics—everything from marina construction to vessel maintenance to waste handling. Most are easy and affordable, such as watering plants deeply but infrequently and encouraging boaters to share excess paint instead of storing or disposing of it improperly. Others help marina personnel educate and train boaters on what they can do to protect habitats and improve water quality.
In addition to outlining best practices, the guidebook provides important information on laws and permit programs, connects readers with additional resources, and includes clean boating tip sheets that can be distributed to boaters. Illinois DNR also provides training and support as marinas work their way through the certification processes.
Illinois is one of six states in the Great Lakes region with a volunteer program that empowers boaters and marina personnel to preserve habitats and prevent pollution. The Illinois program was developed by IDNR, CPD, IISG, and representatives from the marina industry. Funding for the program and guidebook comes from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.
Today marks the first official day of the Illinois Clean Marina Program, a voluntary plan that gives marina and boatyard personnel the tools they need to keep pollution out of rivers and lakes. And Chicago’s newest and largest marina has already pledged to become the first clean marina in the state.
To earn clean marina status, 31st Street Harbor will implement a series of best management practices that make marina operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. The practices cover a broad range of topics from marina construction to sewage handling, and the majority of them are easy and affordable. Some of the activities in the program include conducting vessel maintenance without washing debris into water, scheduling construction to ensure that nearby habitats are protected, and other steps that help reduce environmental impacts.
Marina managers that pledge to join the program will receive training from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to help implement the program’s best management practices. In addition, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, IDNR, and the Chicago Park District are developing a Clean Marina Guidebook with how-to guidance for all program requirements. The guidebook will give important information on laws and permit programs related to marina activities, direct marina personnel to additional resources, and include clean boating tip sheets that can be distributed to boaters. The Illinois Clean Marina Guidebook will be available soon on the program website.
Officials at the Park District expect 31st Street Harbor to complete the certification process later this month. Five additional marinas in the Chicago area are expected to join their ranks within the year. Marina managers interested in pledging to be a clean marina can contact IDNR’s Kim Kreiling at 312-814-6260 or firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the certification process.
Ensuring safety for visitors to Lake Michigan involves several factors, many departments and people, and a terrific amount of work. And still, unless good, accurate information reaches visitors and people who need it, potential problems can’t be avoided.
One such concern each summer season is the presence of rip currents
– a strong flow of water under the surface that carries away from the shore. Each year, swimmers and surfers in all major bodies of water can be endangered by the presence of these currents. That is why developing a more accurate and immediate way of warning beachgoers about rip currents is incredibly important, and why the National Weather Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, life guards at several beaches, and other organizations are partnering to develop and share information about rip currents.
From the Northwest Indiana Times:
“…the National Weather Service’s Chicago office in Romeoville, Ill., and the Northern Indiana office teamed up with beach operators to enhance predicting and warning of rip currents along Lake Michigan’s beaches in an effort to reduce drowning deaths.
In addition to modeling to predict rip currents, forecasters now have the help of lifeguards at beaches at Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Washington Park in Michigan City, Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Mich., and Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph, Mich. The lifeguards report water conditions twice daily and can see the rip currents in the water from their guard stands.”
Read the complete article here
, and find information about rip currents and beach conditions at the Great Lakes Beach Hazards
from NOAA. And most importantly, stay safe and have fun this summer at all of the Great Lakes.
With the Lake Michigan lakefront now open to swimmers for the season, the Chicago Park District will be using a new system to monitor bacteria level and ensure a safe swimming environment for visitors.
From The Chicago Tribune:
“Chicago’s new elaborate system of buoys and statistical models will monitor 16 of the city’s 24 beaches, and Park District officials are seeking grant money from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to expand the system to cover all beaches by next summer.
The model will predict the levels of harmful bacteria at each beach using data on the location of sources of contamination, like colonies of sea gulls or sewer outlets; the motion of waves that can disturb bacteria growing in the sand; lake-current speeds; water temperature; and sunlight.”
Read more about the city’s new system for monitoring Lake Michigan here