LSRI Awarded Funding to Monitor Douglas County Beach Health

Taylor Holt
Updated: June 27, 2018 09:38 PM

With the summer months here, many are enjoying the benefits our local bodies of water provide but keeping the natural resources healthy is a continued effort. Earlier this week, The Lake Superior Research Institute at UWS was awarded $9,300 in funding from the Wisconsin DNR through the EPA to continue this effort. 


Student Assistant, Tailor Schuster and Associate Research Specialist, Simon Wilczewski make up a team at the institute that go out to test the quality of Douglas County's waters as part of the BEACH act.

"I work directly with the beach monitoring program so I go put with Simon every week and we sample," said Schuster.

"We collect measurements such as wave height, water temperature, and cloud cover," said Wilczewski. "Then, we collect our water sample, and we'll bring that to the lab for analysis."

Wednesday, they were out on Barker's Island inner beach and Wisconsin Point for testing. 

"Here at Barker's Island, the water is warmer, it's shallower.  There's a lot of geese, ducks and seagulls that come down here," said Wilczewski.

Wilczewski says that means higher levels of E. Coli are prevalent there. He says factors like the recent storm events also contribute to high levels of bacteria, that put people and wildlife at risk.

"With all the fecal matter left on the beach from ducks and geese, that sort of thing, storm water tends to wash that back into the water," he said. "With higher numbers of E. Coli, there's an increased risk of other diseases and parasites that could be in the water."

Wilczewski says it more than a human health issue. 

"People come down here they feed the ducks, they feed the geese and then there's an unnatural number of ducks and geese hanging around and they are spreading disease among themselves or there's delayed migration," he added.

24 hours after the samples and data is collected, they are able to get results back at the lab and help take action.

The results of the testing determine what advisories if any are posted. As of Wednesday, there was a swim at your own risk advisory posted at Barker's Island, but the levels vary throughout Douglas County.

"I think it's really important especially for the public and the community, because it is a really outdoorsy community so people are out and about a lot and it's important to just advise them of risks if there are any," said Schuster.

Schuster says the advisories are updated weekly, but in the meantime, people can help in the effort.

"People can pick up after themselves, if they are to on the beach for the day, and try not to leave your garbage, or if you're walking your dog, clean up after them," she said.

People can stay up to date on advisories and closures through the Wisconsin Beach Health Website.


Taylor Holt

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