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
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,
"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
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.