How to plan around beach closures ahead of a hot weekend

Five Madison-area beaches closed Friday due to algae blooms.
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 7:00 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With harmful blue-green blooms causing five Madison-area beaches to temporarily close, health officials say there are plenty ways to still enjoy the water on a hot weekend.

Public Health Madison Dane Co. (PHMDC) monitors 22 beaches, many are along the shorelines of Lake Monona and Lake Mendota. PHMDC Microbiologist Jennifer Braun said the when there are blue-algae blooms, people and pets should stay out of the water, as it can make both sick.

“You might experience some mild irritation to the skin, your eyes and even your breathing. You may also experience gastrointestinal illness and symptoms, so its something to keep an eye on, and if symptoms get severe, see your physician,” she said.

Braun said their agency tests water quality at the beaches weekly. They test closed beaches daily. Adam Sodersten with Clean Lakes Alliance, a Madison non-profit working to research water quality in the five lakes the Yahara River watershed, said volunteers with their organization also regularly test the water.

“Cyanobacteria that closes the beach usually happens when its really calm, when its really hot, and its really sunny,” Sodersten said.

Sodersten beach conditions can change daily, depending on the weather and current.

“The more people understand the lakes are dynamic the better off they are. So if you go to the Union and you see the water might not be the best quality, that doesn’t mean its like that everywhere else,” he said.

Braun said there are many beaches that are safe to go to, and recommends lake-goers check the latest conditions on PMDC’s website daily.

Clean Lakes Alliance has a free app called Lake Forecast, that compiles PHMDC data on beach conditions as well as their agencies research.

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