to continue beach monitoring
Kewaunee County might not take part in program
By Paul Brinkmann
Green Bay Press Gazette
OSHKOSH - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
is moving ahead with plans for next yearís statewide public
beach monitoring program after analyzing the first yearís
County health and environmental officials met with DNR
staff Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
to hash over the program and recommend changes for next
Wisconsinís program is part of a nationwide effort under
the federal BEACH Act of 2000 to standardize testing in
all shoreline communities.
In general, participants said they were pleased with
the results despite some problems with budgets and public
Only one of the 13 counties that tested beaches this
summer was not represented at the meeting. Kewaunee County
health director Mary Halada said she had scheduling conflicts,
but she also told the DNR that Kewaunee may not participate
"We hope everybody will participate next year and
we hope the bumps we experienced this year will be eliminated,"
Toni Glymph, DNR toxicologist, said at the meeting.
The DNR released data Thursday for the entire summer
of beach testing. The results show generally good water
quality, with some problem areas, notably in Manitowoc,
Kewaunee and Sheboygan counties.
Brown County beaches are the cleanest in the state for
bacteria, showing not a single instance of bacteria over
the federal limit of concern (235 colony-forming units
per 100 milliliters).
Students from UW-Oshkosh sampled water for five counties.
In Door County, they took 1,549 samples at 30 public beaches
in the program. Only 63 samples, or 4 percent, showed
bacteria over the federal limit.
The county issued 53 advisories for samples over the
235 level and 11 beach closures for samples that showed
more than 1,000 colony forming units of bacteria per 100
milliliters of water.
Faculty and students from the universityís microbiology
department ran in-depth analyses for the five counties
they monitored under contract: Ashland, Bayfield, Door,
Iron and Kewaunee.
Gregory Kleinheinz, assistant professor of microbiology,
said his analysis doesnít fit with beliefs that rainfall
sometimes causes a rise in bacteria levels, at least along
the beaches of Lake Superior.
But the data is not conclusive, he said, because of many
variables and the relative lack of rain this summer, which
means any rain that does fall may just soak in.
Manitowoc Countyís 50 percent failure rate shocked local
The cause of the high bacteria levels is unknown. Jim
Blaha, health department director, said bacteria levels
often spiked at several beaches simultaneously.
Although heís heard concerns about impact on tourism,
Blaha said support for the program in Manitowoc is still
Holly Wirick, a representative of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency in Chicago, also attended the meeting.
She said the Wisconsin program is one of the first in
the country to actually implement testing for an entire
Glymph and the DNR are working to secure funding for
next summerís testing. This yearís program was funded
by the federal government for $225,670, an amount based
on the shoreline population. Next year, Wisconsin could
benefit more under a new formula based on beach miles.
In the meantime, the DNR will begin organizing public
meetings to evaluate new notification methods about beach
conditions, such as a telephone hotline for tourists to
"In general I think the DNR should be commended
for coordinating this effort, bringing expertise to the
table and leveraging so many resources," said Laurel
OíSullivan, water quality manager for the nonprofit Lake