The Door County Board of Supervisors approved using $40,000 in American Rescue Plan Act dollars to fund five electronic beach warning systems. The rapid-notification systems will be operated remotely to alert beachgoers when levels of bacteria in the water make it unsafe for swimming.
Eventually, the system could also be used to warn of physical conditions such as rip currents or offshore weather.
The five pilot beaches are Otumba within the City of Sturgeon Bay, the beaches in the Village of Egg Harbor and the Village of Sister Bay, Frank E. Murphy County Park in the Town of Egg Harbor, and Baileys Harbor Ridges County Park.
Each summer, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh students test Door County beach water for E. coli contamination. Lab results aren’t ready until a day later, and if a closure or advisory is warranted, a student must go to the beach to change the sign, then return to change it back after conditions have improved.
Supervisor Elizabeth Gauger said the existing system caused too much of a delay to be meaningful for frequent swimmers.
“I’m an avid swimmer, and some days the water doesn’t look good, but the sign doesn’t go up for two days,” Gauger said. “The signage has not been useful as it is, so I’m thrilled.”