A day at the beach could come with fewer surprises now that Hennepin County has launched a website where users can determine whether more than two dozen public beaches in the county are open or closed.
The website displays a map with colored balloons — green if the beaches are open, red if they’re closed. A click on any of the balloons opens a box listing the name and location of the beach, its status, what lake it’s on and links to further information.
When beaches are closed it’s usually due to bacteria contamination from human or animal feces, said Duane Hudson, program manager for the county’s environmental health department. That can commonly come from swimmers themselves, kids in dirty diapers, ducks and geese, storm runoff or boaters who don’t properly dispose of waste, Hudson said.
The county tests water quality at 31 beaches weekly, and those results determine when a beach might be closed.
The beaches mapped on the website are operated by a range of public agencies. Minneapolis and Three Rivers Park District beaches are not included, but Hudson said he hopes to add them.
Hudson believes the maps will be useful when a beach is known by its location but by several different names.
The website is at http://tinyurl.com/qdm84y8.