Bacteria continues to close Madison beaches as summer kicks off

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - High levels of bacteria and blue-green algae continue to cause problems for beach-goers in Madison Thursday.

Blue-green algae bloom in Lake Mendota. (Courtesy of UW-Madison Center for Limnology)

The City of Madison has decided to close Hudson Park Lake Access Point Beach right next to Olbrich Park on Lake Monona. The city has determined that Olbrich is safe to swim at.

Levels are better than Wednesday, when beaches were closed at Olbrich Park, Warner Park, Verona Fireman’s Park, Hudson Park Lake Access Point and BB Clarke Park.

A microbiologist with Public Health Madison and Dane Co., Jennifer Braun, said they are monitoring bacteria levels at 20 beaches across the county.

"We've had a lot of heavy rainfall in the past year. Last August we had the flooding, and that really raised the lake levels, caused a high amount of runoff into our rivers and it affects our lakes with phosphorus and other nutrients that that algae feeds off of," she said.

Beach closures will be lifted when those bacteria levels drop, the city says.

Part of the problem is that phosphorus emitted from cow manure and fertilizers used on farms is leaking into Madison’s lakes, according to the UW-Madison Center for Limnology.

That phosphorus then causes the algae to grow at unnaturally rates – making the lakes unhealthy to swim in.

Volunteers with the Clean Lakes Alliance were also out at Warner lagoon to help clean up litter. Luke Wynn with the alliance said improving the amount of native species on the land ultimately has an impact on improving water quality as a whole.

Wynn said the alliance also tests the water levels periodically.

"If you see something unusual if you see sign of bacteria I encourage you to report it to public health, report it to clean lakes alliance," he said.