The National Resource Defense Council has released its report on beach water quality in the US. Wisconsin ranks 26th. This correlates well with our ranking of 18th in US population, however, the pristine image of Wisconsin beaches is not matched in actual water quality.
There is an active measuring program for the Great Lakes Beaches that takes place under the auspices of the Wisconsin DNR through its BEACH Act grants and other programs. The measuring is typically accomplished Memorial Day thru Labor Day. About 12% of Wisconsin beaches are polluted by wildlife and efforts to control their impact have been undertaken.
Not all sources of pollution have been identified but high technology genetic fingerprinting and antibiotic resistance is sometimes used to identify sources of contamination.
E. Coli bacteria rates are the principal reason for beach closings and in 2008 14% of all measurements exceeded state standards and offending beaches were closed. Some beaches are closed due to predictive modeling and not to actual measurements. One can see the value in closing a beach before it is unsafe for human use.
In 2008 there were over a thousand ‘event days’ that either an advisory or a beach closing occurred. Considering that measurements are only made for a few weeks this is an extraordinary amount of problems in my opinion.
“The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates in 2008 were Wisconsin Point Beach 2 in Douglas County (52%), South Shore Beach in Milwaukee County (49%), Fischer Park Beaches (44%) and Neshotah Beach (41%) in Manitowoc County, Eichelman Beach in Kenosha County (40%), Red Arrow Park Beach Manitowoc (36%) and Memorial Drive Wayside Beach South (35%) in Manitowoc County, Pennoyer Park Beach (35%) and Alford Park Beach (35%) in Kenosha County, and Harrington State Park Beach North in Ozaukee County (34%).
Kenosha County had the highest percent exceedance rate in 2008 (32%) followed by Manitowoc (31%), Ozaukee (24%), Milwaukee (22%), Douglas (19%), Sheboygan (18%), Kewaunee (11%), Racine (7%), Door (6%), Ashland (3%), Bayfield (3%), Brown (0%), and Iron (0%).”
At some time we will have to increase our funding for state initiatives to clean up after ourselves and to ensure that natural/wildlife contaminations are controlled.
We cannot live without clean water.