Water quality monitoring plan in the works for a swimming beach at Bay Beach

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - City of Green Bay parks officials say they're working on a water quality monitoring plan so they can bring a swimming beach back to Bay Beach.

Area of the future swimming beach at Bay Beach Amusement Park

Green Bay Parks says the swimming beach shut down in the mid 1930’s due to water conditions.

Action 2 News reported last summer, according to a study done by a researcher at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, dead zones in the Bay of Green Bay are not improving. Dead zones occur when blue-green algae blooms suck oxygen out of the water and create areas with virtually no aquatic life. It's been a documented problem on the bay for 20 years, and dead zones can pose a health risk to not only wildlife but humans, too.

The City of Green Bay must show the state Department of Natural Resources how it plans to test for toxins like E. coli bacteria and algae blooms at the swimming beach and ways it'll notify the public if it’s unsafe to swim. The plan has to be approved by the DNR before construction of the beach begins this fall.

"Right now we haven't completed that water quality monitoring plan so we don't know the extent of the testing, how often it's going to occur and how we would proceed with that, but we are looking at that right now and we do need the plan in place before we can open it up to the public for swimming," said Dan Ditscheit, Green Bay Parks Director.

The swimming beach at Bay Beach will feature a 1,000 foot sand beach, 450 foot pier, boardwalk and a bath house. The city hopes to open the beach area to the public by summer next year.

DNR officials are collecting data to study patterns of when toxins are at their peak in the lower bay and make it unsafe for swimming. They hope to present findings to the community in the fall.

“Somewhat good news in the whole situation is that we see the highest toxins later in the year, September and October,” said Donalea Dinsmore, Quality Assurance, Funding and Beach Coordinator for Wisconsin DNR Office of Great Waters.

Ditscheit says there will be days when the swimming portion of the beach won't be open to the public due to higher levels of E. coli and algae blooms. Even on no-swimming days, Ditscheit says visitors can still take advantage of the sandy areas.

"The number of days we’re closed should be very comparable to the number of days closed at other beaches in Wisconsin," said Ditscheit.

"The history we have of the beaches in the lower bay suggest that by and large the number of times that you would have bacteria problems are fairly low, similar to what they see in Door County," says Dinsmore.

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