Water Quality: Final

Barring unforeseen circumstances, this will be the last water quality report.  It appears that things are much better but reasonable caution is advised.


Water quality in the Lower Wisconsin River is not routinely monitored by any agency, but the consensus of the current quality of the water in the Mazo Beach area from the Dane County Health Department, Sauk County Health Department, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is as follows:

Some of the beaches in the area are closed due to high blue-green algae counts. A number of beach people have expressed a concern of the increase of the algae seen in the river water this past week. In general, being a flowing body of water, it is safe using the following precautions as long as you stay out of low water flow areas. For more information specifically on blue-green algae, go to: dnr.wi.gov/lakes/bluegreenalgae

In general, river water quality is much improved this past month (see Current Status of Wisconsin River Water Contamination posted on July 5, 2008.)

Presently, (as of August 1st) the levels of bacterial, viral, parasitic, chemical and waste contaminants have decreased substantially, but the river is not back to normal levels yet. Rain will continue to help “flush” the contaminants from the river, and the sun will continue to help “bake” the bacteria out of the sand.

For the present time, the following is suggested regarding river and beach usage to minimize risk to your health and safety –

People should determine their own level of risk of using the beach and river.

Children younger than age 5, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Most of the bacteria has been baked out of the surface sand on the beach.

Try to keep your dogs out of the river, because they tend to drink the water.

Bring extra water for your dogs for now.

Have your tetanus shots up to date.

Keep your head above water level.

Wash off any food dropped on the beach or in the river with clean water before eating it.

It is a good idea to bring and use Purell or some other sanitizer (for cleaning hands before eating or cleaning cuts and scrapes.)

Shower and shampoo as soon as possible after leaving the river.

Best to not enter the river if you have existing wounds.

If you receive a cut or scrape, rinse it with non-river water and apply peroxide or antibiotic ointment as soon as possible.

Be cautious when using watercraft or wading in the river, being aware that although the river level is down, there is an increase in unstable sands and uprooted trees and other
underwater debris.

In general, have a good time – just use a little common sense.

Note: All of this year’s water reports will removed from FOMB at the end of the season, both to minimize clutter and to avoid confusion next summer.


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