Profile Picture Jonathan Levy

created May 4 2016

updated Sep 19 2019

Description

The Chicago Park District collects and analyzes water samples from beaches along Chicago’s Lake Michigan lakefront. The Chicago Park District partners with the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Public Health Laboratory to analyze water samples using a new DNA testing method called Rapid Testing Method (qPCR analysis) which tests for Enterococci in order to monitor swimming safety.

The rapid testing method (qPCR analysis) is a new method that measures levels of pathogenic DNA in beach water. Unlike the culture based test that requires up to 24 hours of processing, the new rapid testing method requires a 4-5 hours for results. The Chicago Park District can use results of the rapid test to notify the public when levels exceed UPEPA recommended levels, which is 1000* CCE. When DNA bacteria levels exceed 1000 CCE, a yellow swim advisory flag is implemented. For more information please refer to the USEPA Recreational Water Quality Criteria (http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/health/recreation).

Historically, the Chicago Park District used the culture based analysis method and statistical prediction models to monitor beach water quality.
The culture based method tests for Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria which is an indicator species for the presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that may pose health risks to the public. This method requires 18-24 hours of processing to receive results. The Chicago Park District would use results of the culture based method to notify the public when levels exceed UPEPA recommended levels, which is 235* CFU. When bacteria levels exceed 235 CFU, a yellow swim advisory flag was implemented. This standard is still used at most beaches throughout the Great Lakes region. For more information please refer to the USEPA Recreational Water Quality Criteria.

The statistical prediction model forecasted real-time Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria levels present in the water. The Chicago Park District (CPD) in partnership with the US Geological Survey, developed statistical prediction models by using weather data pulled from CPD buoys (https://data.cityofchicago.org/d/qmqz-2xku) and weather stations (https://data.cityofchicago.org/d/k7hf-8y75). The Chicago Park District would use results of the predictive model to notify the public when bacteria levels would exceed 235 CFU. When bacteria levels exceed 235 CFU, a yellow swim advisory flag was implemented.

* The unit of measurement for Escherichia coli is Colony Forming Units (CFU) per 100 milliliters of water. (Culture Based Method / Statistical Prediction Model)
*The unit of measuring DNA is Enterococci Calibrator Cell Equivalents (CCE) per 100 milliliters of water. (Rapid Testing Analysis)

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Parks & Recreation
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Public
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beaches, parks, chicago park district, open spaces, parks & recreation, recreation, water
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Water Sample
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Data Provided By
Chicago Park District
Source Link
http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/
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Chicago Park District
Time Period
2006 - current (in season)
Frequency
Daily (in season)
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