A beach is considered accessible if it has an accessible path of travel (beach walk) to the shoreline.
- Respect the Flag, stay out of the water if the flag is red.
- Don’t swim in non-swimming areas. Look for stencils that indicate “no swimming” and “no diving.”
- Pay attention to the waves. Avoid longshore and structural currents.
- Keep your children safe. Use a buddy system and stay near your kids when they’re in the water.
- If you see someone in trouble, call for help (lifeguards or 911).
- Know where you are on the lakefront.
- Get a last-seen point so you can direct first-responders.
• Swim only when lifeguards are on duty.
• Follow lifeguards’ instructions.
• Only Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) are permitted. Person-children wearing PFDs should have adult present.
• No smoking.
• No alcohol.
• No dogs on the beach.
• Do not feed birds or wildlife.
• Dispose of trash and recycling in appropriate containers.
• Grill in designated areas only and dispose of coals in red barrels.
• Keep accessible beach walks clear. No bicycling, skateboarding or rollerblading is permitted in these areas.
How often does CPD sample the water?
The Chicago Park District samples the beaches seven days a week starting the Friday of Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day. Chicago Park District Lab Sample Collectors sample between sunrise and 8:30 am.
What method does CPD use?
The Chicago Park District and the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health have partnered to expand the water quality testing program to utilize a new Rapid Testing method developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The Rapid Testing method measures levels of bacterial DNA in beach water. The traditional Culture Based method provides results after 18-24 hours, but the Rapid Test provides results within 3-4 hours. The Chicago Park District can use results of the Rapid Test to notify the public when the risk is elevated for developing water borne illness.
What does CPD sample for?
The Chicago Park District tests the water for Enterococci bacteria. Enterococci is not harmful itself and is naturally occurring in the environment. However, this bacteria is an indicator of the presence of other pathogens that could make you sick. US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) beach policy recommends notifying the public when Enterococci bacteria levels are above the federal water quality Beach Action Value (BAV), which is 1000 CCE. This standard is used at beaches throughout the Great Lakes region.
Why does CPD issue water quality advisories?
If a water sample exceeds 1000 CCE of Enterococci bacteria, the Chicago Park District will issue a swim advisory which will be indicated with a yellow flag.
How does CPD inform the public?
Beach water quality information is posted by 1:30 pm on www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/beaches and the Beach Hotline 312-74-BEACH. Additionally, current and historical records can be downloaded by searching “Beach Lab Data’ on https://data.cityofchicago.org/.
Here are the things you can do to keep our beaches clean:
- Place all garbage and recycling in their appropriate containers.
Garbage — especially leftover food — attracts birds and other wildlife to the beaches, resulting in water contamination.
- Put small children in waterproof diapers and change diapers frequently.
- Grill only in designated areas, and place your charcoal waste in the marked red metal containers.
- Keep dogs in designated areas. Pick up after your pets and place pet waste in trash cans.
- Please do not swim if you’re not feeling well.
- Be sure to also check out our volunteer page for ways you can join the beaches volunteer team and our beach rules for what’s not allowed at the beach.