Late Wednesday afternoon, representatives from MillerCoors, Milwaukee County Parks, UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences and Milwaukee County held a press conference at South Shore Park, announcing new initiatives – and namely a new $500,000 contribution from MillerCoors – to clean up the park's beach.
The Bay View park features several recreational areas and hosts several events, but its sandy beach has often been closed in recent years due to E. Coli contamination. As a result, the beach has earned a national reputation as one of the worst in the country. In fact, earlier this summer, the Natural Resources Defense Council named South Shore one of 17 repeat offenders, meaning that its water samples have been worse than the public health benchmarks since 2009.
"As you can imagine, this designation ... we're not proud of it," said John Dargle Jr., parks director for Milwaukee County Parks, "but to many of our partners, we are committed to change that – forever – and get off this list."
Dargle Jr. and the rest of the speakers mentioned Bradford Beach several times throughout the press conference, hopeful to recreate the successful work that the city has already seen in action at the now revitalized Milwaukee hotspot.
"I remember being around in 2008 and an incredibly enthusiastic witness to the announcement then, again from Miller, of their commitment to clean up Bradford Beach," said County Executive Chris Abele.
"We expect huge crowds now, but at the time, we didn't have anything like that, and there hand't been for a long time. Anybody who isn't clear about how much of a transformation can be impacted by a partnership like this need only drive down – as we all have – on a hot summer day and just see thousands and thousands of your community enjoying an incredible asset and a clean beach. That's what we're going to get now."
The $500,000 donation and commitment from MillerCoors is a strong start in that direction, but obviously there is much work, planning and research that needs to be done to fix the pollution and clean the beach.
According to Sandra McLellan, professor and senior scientist at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, their studies point at localized pollution – not the sewage district, the cows upstream or the whole lake itself – that's causing most of the problems, ones not unique to urban-based beaches.
"Lake Michigan is really fairly clean on most days," McLellan said. "It's the localized pollution that we can see standing right here: the runoff from the parking lot, the gulls roosting on the sand, storm water outfalls that are up and down the shoreline. And it was through many years of taking water samples that we started to figure out just how severe these sources are."
The exact plans for managing those pollution sources and cleaning up South Shore Beach are still being studied, formulated and discussed. McLellan noted that they'll be looking into solutions, from the storm water outfalls and working with Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District into how the runoff from the streets can be managed better to the parking lot runoff to further studying how the water moved through the break wall.
"It's not going to be a simple fix because we are in such an urban area, but many groups of expertise have come together to compile what's forming into a master plan, and step by step, I think we can start to mitigate some of the sources," McLellan said.
When asked about moving the beach to area with cleaner water and better water movement, McLellan said that option – like all of their potential options – was one to be weighed out, but that it wouldn't truly solve the actual problem.
"We need to get rid of some of the runoff and the chronic pollution problems, because that can just flow right along the shore," McLellan said. "All of these things working together in a longterm plan, I think, is what's going to make a difference."
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published Nov. 30, 2016
Marcus Lemonis' recent visit to Milwaukee for "The Profit" may not have gone according to plan, but he still has his sights on the Cream City, as his Bentley's Pet Stuff chain will open six new shops in around the city this weekend.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
While scenic designer Todd Edward Ivins' knowledge of the Milwaukee Rep's "A Christmas Carol" was mostly a blank slate, he was more than aware of the daunting legacy before him when he began work helping to reimagine the holiday classic.
Published Nov. 29, 2016
For many, Election Day was a day of shellshocked hurt, disappointment and fear. But today is a new day, and it's time to go to work doing good and helping those in need. Here are just a few ways you can reach out and make a difference.
Published Nov. 28, 2016
Christmas came early for Milwaukee, as Vogue Magazine gifted the city a flattering place in its recent "5 Industrial Cities Making America's Rust Belt Shine Again" travel article. See what they had to say!
Published Nov. 27, 2016
Netflix's much-anticipated "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life" premiered this holiday weekend, and, while most of the show played like a sloppy but warmly satisfying Thanksgiving dinner, the ending left an uneasy aftertaste.
Published Nov. 22, 2016
Kenneth Lonergan's movie "Manchester By the Sea" has been a part of Oscar talk ever since January, but before it hits town, audiences can get a taste of his work with the Chamber's "Lobby Hero." We learned more about the show and why Lonergan's material works so well.
Published Nov. 22, 2016
Christmas has come early for Netflix subscribers, as the service announced its new arrivals for December - including "Captain America: Civil War," only the biggest movie of the year. And that's far from all. Here's everything coming and going next month.
Published Nov. 21, 2016
Some excitement quite literally hit Farwell Avenue early Monday afternoon, as a significant part of a building set for demolition fell onto the street.
Published Nov. 20, 2016
Despite being surrounded by the unfamiliar, I felt like I was cozily at home during my stay at The Astor Hotel - and that's a pretty impressive achievement for a hotel, especially when a guest's guts are actively staging a violent coup against him.
Published Nov. 16, 2016
Progress is moving fast on The Westin Milwaukee hotel - which will hold 220 rooms and a restaurant when it opens in June 2017 - and as evidence, this morning, The Westin hosted a special ceremony and a tour of the views and rooms in progress.