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Beach Advisories - City of Milwaukee

The City of Milwaukee Health Department, along with the UW - Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health, conducts analysis of beach water and does daily environmental monitoring, in order to issue beach swim updates from Memorial to Labor Day. These updates are issued daily for Bradford, McKinley, and South Shore beaches. Testing is done on samples from each beach to determine levels of E. coli, a micro-organism which is persistent in many parts of the environment. While E. coli is normally found in bodies of water, elevated levels can raise health concerns.  Symptoms such as upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, headache and fever can result from exposure to disease causing organisms in lake water. Infections of the eye, ear, and throat, as well as more serious illnesses may also occur. 

Elevated levels of E. coli can develop due to many circumstances: human or animal activity in or near the water, rain water washing waste or debris into the water, or discharges of incompletely treated wastewaters from nearby water treatment plants. Based on the testing and other environmental data, one of three postings below is assigned daily by the Milwaukee Health Department to each beach. These postings can be found at the website Wisconsin Beach Health, the City of Milwaukee Health Department website, and at the beaches themselves. They are designed to guide you in knowing when you can safely enjoy the water at these three fine beaches:


Green Placard 

Risk of illness from micro-organism exposure considered minimal. However, do not ingest lake water, be aware of other safety hazards associated with swimming, and, as always, swim at your own risk.

Yellow Placard 

Risks of illness due to micro-organism exposure are somewhat elevated. If you do decide to enter the water, take extra precautions: do not ingest lake water, wash hands before eating, and shower when done swimming. Be aware of other safety hazards associated with swimming, and, as always, swim at your own risk.

Red Placard

Beach patrons should not enter water. There is an elevated risk of illness due to exposure to micro-organisms.