About The Wisconsin Beach Health Database
"Wisconsin Beach Health" is a DNR database that provides water quality data and beach advisories and closings for over 100 Great Lakes beaches in Wisconsin. This application has three main components: a map showing beach closings and advisories, an E. Coli and advisory beach report database for the public and a data entry portal for our monitoring partners.
Beach Health Data
Beach monitoring partners across the state (e.g., universities, local public health departments and consultants) collect E. coli information at monitored beaches 1-5 times weekly and post swimming advisories for those beaches based on that information. Additionally, some beaches have developed nowcasting models on which to base advisories. Beach managers also collect routine sanitary survey information at all monitored beaches, which tracks meteorological variables such as temperature and wind speed as well as water quality variables such as temperature, algae, turbidity (cloudiness) and wave height.
Wisconsin Beach Health Database and Website History
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 (EPA) Environmental Monitoring for Public Access for Community Tracking (EMPACT) program. The grant funded expanded beach monitoring efforts in the Milwaukee-Racine area, as well as the creation of the original Beach Health website to improve public notification and outreach.
In 2000, the Beach Health website and database were developed as a joint venture between the DNR and the US Geological Survey (USGS). During 2001-02, the DNR and the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) funded the website. Beach Health grew with the addition of data from several more Lake Michigan coastal municipalities. In late 2020, the DNR began developing a new database, data entry portal, webpages and swimming advisory map for the public. This new "Wisconsin Beach Health" information was released for the start of the 2021 beach season.