Door County Board approves beach monitoring, message boards

Beach at Baileys Harbor
Beach at Baileys Harbor(WBAY file image)
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 9:09 PM CST
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STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Door County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to use federal money for monitoring the health of beaches and buying electronic advisory signs to let beachgoers know if the water is healthy to swim in.

All 19 members present for Tuesday’s vote approved using money from the American Rescue Plan for the pilot program. Two supervisors were absent.

The water quality at county beaches will be tested 6 days a week, and message boards will be installed at five parks. The signs can be updated remotely. “That information could be presented at those beaches much faster than driving to the sites and posting,” Commissioner David Englebert said.

Commissioner Elizabeth Gauger, who described herself as an avid swimmer, said, “I know the water doesn’t look good, the sign doesn’t go up for two days. By that time it’s cleared up. We’re open water swimmers, so the signage hasn’t been useful the way it’s been, so I’m thrilled with this option.”

The message boards will only show whether the beach is safe after water quality testing. They won’t alert beachgoers to conditions such as strong winds or choppy waters.

“Public Health has a website, you can look up what the beaches are at. Not a lot of locals know where that’s at or where to look -- and it’s almost a guarantee that most tourists don’t look. So the reason I’m still very for it, for lack of better terms, it’s ‘idiot-proof.’ Green it’s safe, but they see red, hopefully they know green means go, red means stop,” Commissioner Nissa Norton said.

The signs will cost $6,000 and there’s an annual cost.

A message board won’t be installed at Peninsula State Park, because that’s controlled by the state.