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Great Lakes Article:

Wisconsin Misses Deadline to Meet Federal Beach Water Standards
By Tom Held
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
April 14, 2004

Wisconsin will have to adopt tougher water quality standards along its Great Lakes beaches to meet federal requirements, even though the state has begun mandatory testing and voluntary compliance with the stricter rules.

The lack of a formal state rule or law matching the federal standards in the Beach Act of 2000 landed Wisconsin on a list of states that have failed to comply with the federal law.

As of the April 10 deadline, only nine states had updated their own laws. Wisconsin joined 21 other states that were in the process of adopting the standards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The state Department of Natural Resources has been following the federal standards since 2002 and began testing for E. coli bacteria at 173 beaches last year, said Toni Glymph, who runs the water testing program for the agency.

Testing this year will begin around Memorial Day.

Glymph said DNR officials decided to begin testing water samples immediately and take advantage of the $226,000 per year the EPA provides to pay for that work.

The DNR will work with the Natural Resources Board and legislators on revising the state rules later this year, she said.

"Revising the standard is important, and we are working on it," said Bob Masnado, who leads the DNR water quality section. "But we felt that our highest priority was getting the beach testing and notification program up and going. That allows us to more immediately, directly and fully protect swimmers from all possible sources of beach pollution."

Under the monitoring program, state or local officials post warning signs on beaches when the E. coli levels in the water exceed 235 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water.

Beaches are posted closed when the E. coli levels exceed 1,000 colony-forming units.

Swimmers who ingest water tainted with E. coli bacteria or other strains of fecal coliform may suffer from flu-like symptoms after their exposure.

Small children or adults with existing health problems are at risk for more serious illnesses.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.

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