Letter to the Editor: So What’s in Your Water?

With an increase in the number and size of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Kewaunee County and now Door County, and the fact that water-dependent tourism and agriculture are among the leading contributors to our regional and local economies, it’s surprising that no local or regional media regularly report on the quality of the water at our Door and Kewaunee County beaches, especially because this information is important and readily available.

Every summer, June through August, the Wisconsin DNR publishes E. coli reports for public beaches in all 72 Wisconsin counties, including at least 53 beaches in Door County and six beaches in Kewaunee County ( We were shocked when we became aware of last summer’s E. coli readings for Door and Kewaunee County beaches, particularly during August 2022, which is traditionally the most popular month for tourists to visit these areas.

During the summer of 2022, Otumba Park Beach in Sturgeon Bay had the most unsafe, elevated E. coli findings at 19. Fish Creek had 12; Ephraim had 10; and Baileys Harbor had four, among others.

In addition to the E. coli readings for Door County beaches, we have also obtained the E. coli readings for Kewaunee County beaches during the summer of 2022. Again, the results are startling! Crescent Beach in Algoma had 13 unsafe, elevated E. coli findings. Not to be surpassed, Selner Park Beach in Kewaunee had 17!

Given the popularity of Door and Kewaunee County beaches during the summer months, it’s surprising that no local/regional media are regularly reporting this information. Why not? Is it a fear of rocking the tourism boat and questioning current agricultural practices? Whatever the reason, can you, just for a moment, imagine Door and Kewaunee Counties with beaches that have become basically unusable? We can’t let this happen!

Hopefully you will join us as we work to ensure that residents and visitors are made aware of these findings and help to eliminate the causes of these insults to our fragile environment.

Mike Bahrke

Executive Director,
Door County Environmental Council

Sister Bay, Wisconsin

Door County Environmental Council Board of Directors: Eileen Andera, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Mike Bahrke, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin; Elliot Curry, Sister Bay, Wisconsin; Steve Eatough, Sister Bay, Wisconsin; Bill Hoag, Ephraim, Wisconsin; Paul Leline, Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin; Emeil Marks, Sister Bay, Wisconsin; Renee McAllister, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Cody Schreck, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin; Robert Sijgers, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin