Beach Monitoring

 Image of a lake coastline with a sandy beach

Many of Wisconsin's beaches are routinely monitored for bacteria and other pathogens. It is important to keep an eye out for any beach closure sign, which indicates impaired recreational water.


Wisconsin Beach Health

A number of Lake Michigan communities have monitored the water quality at their beaches for several decades. Many, including Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, and Manitowoc, have been working together for several years to address the challenges of pollution and beach closings. In 1999, the City of Milwaukee Health Department received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) Environmental Monitoring for Public Access for Community Tracking (EMPACT) program to enhance the efforts of this group and expand beach monitoring efforts in the Milwaukee-Racine area.

The Wisconsin coastal beach program is a collaboration between state and local environmental and health agencies to monitor recreational waters for health risks to help people make informed choices when they go to the beach. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources coordinates the program, but local health departments have authority over public beaches within their jurisdictions. The statewide beach monitoring program is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by a grant under the federal Beach Act of 2000.

Water-quality data from approximately 100 public beaches are listed on the Wisconsin Beach Health website. Maps of beaches by county are available along with monitoring information on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website. The Beach Health website gives the public an opportunity to view water quality data and beach advisories for Great Lakes beaches all across Wisconsin.

For more information on specific beaches in your community, visit Wisconsin Beach Health.

Local Health Department

Some local health departments maintain beach monitoring programs. To find out whether your county collects beach health information, see the Wisconsin Beach Health interactive map on beach water quality.

Resources

Recreational Water Safety Homepage

Environmental Health Homepage

Department of Health Services Homepage

Last Revised: September 7, 2016