Contamination level of Racine County waterways varies
RACINE COUNTY — With 88,000 miles of rivers and streams and 1.2 million lake acres in Wisconsin, Department of Natural Resources impaired waters coordinator Ashley Beranek is busy.
Every year, the DNR releases a list of waterways — lakes, rivers and creeks — that contain pollutant levels harmful to wildlife and, in some cases, humans.
The proposed list for 2018 includes 29 entries for Racine County, though some of the larger waterways, like Lake Michigan, the Root River, Root River Canal and the north branch of the Pike River, are broken up into separate entries.
The list includes four bodies of water that may be added and one that could be removed from the list.
Two beaches on Lake Michigan are listed for containing multiple pollutants and testing positive for E. coli contamination: Shoop Park Beach near Wind Point and Michigan Boulevard Beach from Melvin Avenue to Wolff Street in Racine.
Bacterial pollution stems from sewage and sewer overflows as well as general runoff.
Both beaches are marked for restricted recreational use.
Another possible addition for next year is Hood Creek in northwest Mount Pleasant because of its degraded biological community and reduction in fish and invertebrate populations caused by alterations to the creek bed, which is negative for the overall health of the stream but does not directly affect humans.
It was designated as one category of lake and is being changed to another which allows a higher phosphorus level without being designated impaired.
The issue is “legacy phosphorus” or phosphorus that has accumulated on the floor of the inlets that feed into the lake — Eagle Creek, which runs along Church Road and enters the lake from the northwest and Oakcrest Inlet, which runs from the marsh southeast of the lake and passes between Oakcrest Drive and Golf Road.