The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has awarded the contract for implementing the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act in Douglas County to the Lake Superior Research Institute (LSRI) at the University of Wisconsin-Superior for the third consecutive year.
LSRI will monitor Lake Superior beaches for the presence of E. coli, a bacteria found in the environment that can make people sick, to reduce the risk of disease for users of coastal, recreational beaches in Douglas County. As part of this monitoring effort, LSRI will also collect sanitary survey data at each of the monitored beaches.
These surveys are designed to collect data on parameters that may influence E. coli concentrations, such as wave height, water temperature, and number of gulls. Since bacteria samples have a short holding time of 24 hours, the proximity of LSRI’s laboratories, which are located on the UW-Superior campus, were a factor in LSRI being selected to conduct the testing.
LSRI is collecting sampling at regular intervals between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If E. coli concentrations are found to be greater than 1,000 MPN/100 mL, beaches closures would be triggered and warning signs posted. In order to keep stakeholders and the public informed, LSRI communicates the results of beach monitoring to the City of Superior and the Douglas County Department of Health and Human Services, and also uploads each day’s monitoring results to the Wisconsin Beach Health Website.
“We are certified as a Milk, Food, and Water Lab by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), plus we have experience monitoring E. coli in surface water, so this is a great fit for us,” said Kelsey Prihoda, LSRI Researcher. “It’s also a great field experience opportunity for our students. Each year, we have one student who helps with beach monitoring and sample analysis. It gives students valuable experience with collecting and analyzing samples, measuring various water quality parameters in the field, and calibrating and maintaining instruments.”
Photo: For the third consecutive year, the Lake Superior Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Superior has been awarded the contract for implementing the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act in Douglas County by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.