Lake County Beaches under Stricter Safety Regulations

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Heidenrich Daily Herald Staff Writer

Illinois' new beach safety regulations appear to be safely met in Mundelein, where the beach is equipped with bathrooms, a telephone, lifeguards and signs dictating swimming restrictions.

In comparison, all you'll find at the three beaches on the Lake County side of Island Lake are garbage cans and buoys marking the swim areas.

Both areas are among the 44 beaches in Lake County licensed by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and are subject to changes the agency made this year to its beach regulations.

Because of recent illnesses from contaminated lake water and concerns about beach safety, the agency has several new requirements.

Among them are: No pets allowed; bathrooms for each sex within 300 feet of the beach; more frequent water testing and safety equipment including first-aid kits and telephones.

At larger public beaches like the one in Mundelein, most of the new rules have little effect because they have already been met. But smaller residential beaches like those in Island Lake are having trouble keeping up.

"They're good rules, and I wish we could enforce them," said Island Lake Village Trustee Beverly Anderson, who feared the state might close the village's beaches. None of the beaches have phones, lifeguards, first aid equipment or bathrooms.

Some of the rules are impractical for Island Lake, Anderson said.

For example, the required life ring buoy would have to be chained down. But chaining it would prevent it from being used in an emergency. And portable bathrooms on the beaches would put them too close to homes, she said.

The changes have been in effect since May 25 for all 350 licensed beaches in the state - including three on Lake Zurich, six on Wauconda's Bangs Lake, three on Mundelein's Diamond Lake, one on Libertyville's Lake Minear and three on Island Lake. …