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