Letter to the Editor: E. coli at Our Door County Beaches

Last January the Door County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to use $40,000 in American Rescue Plan Act money to purchase electronic water quality warning lights for five Door County beaches. The lights can be operated remotely to alert beachgoers to high levels of E. coli bacteria in the water that make it unsafe for swimming.

The five beaches to be included in the pilot program were 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.

For several years, Door County has worked with the UW-Oshkosh to test the water at over 30 Door County beaches for the bacteria which can make swimmers sick.

The warning lights were expected to be in place for swimming this summer. As of last week, lights have finally been installed and activated at five Door County beaches: Otumba, Egg Harbor, Murphy Park, Baileys Harbor, and Sunset beach in Sturgeon Bay. Sister Bay elected not to install a basically “free” water quality monitor to alert beachgoers to high E. coli levels. Why? This summer alone, there have been seven high E. coli water events (two closures and five advisories) at the Sister Bay beach. 

Hopefully, swimmers becoming sick will not be the impetus needed to install another monitor!

Bill Hoag

Ephraim, Wisconsin