Bookmark and Share

City of Milwaukee Beach Water Quality

The City of Milwaukee Health Department, along with the UW-Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, conducts water sampling and analysis from Memorial Day to Labor Day at each of the city's three public beaches in order to issue beach water quality updates daily. 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.

Beach Water Quality Alerts

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the City of Milwaukee Health Department issues color-coded water quality alerts at Bradford, McKinley, and South Shore beaches in the city of Milwaukee. These postings can be found on the City of Milwaukee Health Department website, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Wisconsin Beach Health Website, and at each beach. The signs follow a color-coded system designed to guide you in knowning when you can safely enjoy the water, and when to exercise additional caution. 

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

Risk of illness due to micro-organism exposure are somewhat elevated. If you 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.

Beach Water Quality Data Dashboard