GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — If you've ever been to a beach in West Michigan, you've probably noticed the flags that fly which gives an indication about the water conditions along Lake Michigan.
Green means swimming conditions are good, yellow means use caution and red is a warning to not swim.
It is supposed to be an effective tool, giving beach goers a heads up about the water conditions. However, a water safety group is questioning the accuracy of the system.
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) says sometimes the wrong flag is flying. For example: there are times a red or yellow flag is flying when a green one should be up or vice-versa.
Dave Benjamin, the executive director of GLSRP, says the system is 'consistently inconsistent.' He says the Michigan DNR needs to work together with other city beaches and the National Weather Service to ensure everyone uses the flags properly as lives are at stake.
"Oftentimes, the flags do not reflect the actual surf conditions. And those inaccurate flags may be up for, you know, hours or sometimes a complete day," said Benjamin. "So, if we're going to then rely on the flag system, and use it, as it's not intended to be used, we should have an outstanding management system of it."
Benjamin added the flags are a tool for life guards and should not be a replacement. However, there aren't life guards at state park beaches and most city beaches along the lakeshore.
13 On Your Side reached out to the Michigan DNR about the criticism and have not heard back at the time this article posted. But, the Michigan DNR has said before that the flag system alone is not enough.
The agency signed a land use order which gave them the power to close beaches when they deem that conditions are unsafe.
This is the first year since that order was signed, and the DNR has already closed the beach in Grand Haven multiple times this summer.
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