By Tom Held Special to Published Jun 29, 2012 at 10:26 AM

On a run along the Oak Leaf Trail in Bay View Thursday night, I noticed the water along the beach in South Shore Park teaming with splashing children, parents and pets.

Not suprising, given the extreme heat of the day, but definitely not necessarily advisable given the pollution problems in the often stagnant water.

Earlier in the week, the Natural Resources Defense Council listed South Shore 15th among the worst beaches for the number of days that bacteria levels in the water exceeded public health standards. Advisories have been posted, or the beach has been closed to swimmers nearly two-dozen days over the past month.

It's been a long-standing and intractable problem along South Shore, where the break wall traps water and contributes to stagnation and bacteria build up.

Feces from birds and animals washes into the lake, bringing with it the harmful E. coli and other bacteria.

Another runner, a regular swimmer who trains for triathlons, commented that she finds little clean water off the beaches south of the Port of Milwaukee. In contrast, a group of triathletes swims in Lake Michigan nearly every day, from Klode Park.

The water is cold, but clean.

In April, Milwaukee County officials announced they would study moving the swim area at South Shore roughly 100 yards to the south, to provide cleaner and safer water for those looking to swim some distance, or just cool off in the heat of summer.


Tom Held Special to

Memories of running cross-country for the Slinger Owls motivated Tom Held to get his body moving again when he turned 30. Almost two decades later, he's still on the move. The 49-year-old bikes, runs and skis, and covers news for similarly active people as a freelance writer and blogger.

He spent 26 years as a daily news reporter, and applies that experience to dig out stories about athletes, races, endurance sports, fitness and self-propelled transportation. His work has appeared in Silent Sports Magazine, Wisconsin Trails and Cross-Country Skier.

Held lives in the Bay View neighborhood, where he counts being Dad to twin daughters part of his daily workout.