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Great Lakes Article:

Dry weather may help water quality
Great Lakes beach closings drop 34% this year, DNR says
By Dan Egan
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published September 21, 2005

State officials are pointing to dry weather as the likely reason why Great Lakes beach closures were down in Wisconsin this year.

This summer, there were 195 beach closures in the state, a 34% drop from the 296 closures at Great Lakes beaches last year, the state Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

More than 4,200 samples for E. coli were taken from popular swimming spots along the state's Great Lakes shoreline this swimming season, and the beaches passed 84% of the time.

Testing showed safe levels of bacteria 78% of the time last year.

Prior to the summer of 2002, the DNR said state Great Lakes beaches were rarely tested regularly outside of Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine counties.

Some areas have chronic troubles
Widespread testing since then has shown that some beaches have chronic bacteria issues while others have had none.

"During the past three years of monitoring, a quarter of the beaches had no days in which water quality samples exceeded safe levels," Toni Glymph, a DNR environmental toxicologist, said in a statement. "And 53 percent of the beaches had safe water 90 percent of the time during that same three-year period."

While there were no sewer overflows from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District this year, Milwaukee beaches still had bacteria issues.

Downtown's Bradford Beach, for example, showed elevated levels of bacteria nearly 40% of the time.

With no overflows to blame, researchers say a likely culprit for the high levels of E. coli is bird or animal waste that either washed directly into the water from the beach or spilled into lake tributaries.

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