Madison Beaches Could Open This Weekend

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

The city parks division expected to open Madison city beaches June 11. But they could open this weekend, if the mercury stays high while bacteria levels stay low.

Beth Pulvermacher, who lives near Vilas Park Beach, says "I love coming here. I just don't like swimming in the lake."

Perhaps it's the waterfowl, or perhaps it's what she cannot see .

"Just to come and see these always kind of mucky and weedy and lots of geese pooping, doesn't make me feel real good," she says.

And the bacteria left behind could make Beth Pulvermacher or her young daughter feel real bad if levels get too high.

Kirsti Sorsa of Madison Public Health says, "Vilas has a very large waterfowl population there. They do contribute to fecal contamination."

Samples at a city lab show very low levels of bacteria from Vilas Park Beach and Olin Park beach.

Madison city Parks likely will open up a handful of beaches this weekend, including this beach at Vilas Park.

"If there are some heavy rain events, high wind events, then you can anticipate counts may go up," Sorsa says.

The bottom line; experts cannot predict what might happen. Two years ago, Vilas Park Beach closed in July for the rest of the season due to strain of E coli, but it closed last year for one day.

"It varies from season to season. If we have heavy rain, and if there's a lot of garbage on streets, it goes into lakes," Sorsa says.

Here's a look at how bacteria affected some beaches last year:

Olin Park Beach closed for a total of 10 days.

Spring Harbor closed for seven days.

Olbrich Park closed for four days.

"I haven't ever noticed beach being closed when we've come here," Pulvermacher says.

"For the most part, we are in pretty good shape; few illnesses that result from local beaches," Sorsa says.

You can check city beach conditions online at

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