We monitor water at La Crosse County area beaches for E. coli bacteria. We do this to keep harmful bacteria from making you sick while you enjoy our lakes, streams, and beaches.
Beaches we monitor
What we test for
We test for E. coli bacteria. The most common germs found in water are bacteria, viruses, or parasites from human or animal feces. These germs can make you sick. Testing for all the germs in the water that could make you sick is time consuming and expensive. We test for Escherichia coli (E. coli) because it is the best indicator if there are germs in the water that can make you sick.
When we collect water samples
We collect water for E. coli testing at least once a week at each beach. If bacteria levels are high, we close the beach for swimming. We test again until the sample meets an acceptable bacteria level, then the beach can re-open for swimming.
Beach closures for swimming
A beach water quality closure means that the water is unsafe for swimming. Closures happen when levels of E. coli or blue-green algae toxins are higher than safety limits. For E. coli, this limit is 1,000 MPN/100 mL. You can still enjoy the sandy area of the beach and other park facilities, but don't go in the water if the beach is closed for swimming.
Conditions can change quickly
Many things can affect water quality: recent wind or rainy weather, time of day, birds and other wildlife at the beach, number of people at the beach.
Conditions can vary a lot through the day and from day-to day. Always look at the water around you before you get in. Conditions can change quickly, and a test result may not always reflect the current water quality.
A few things to remember
Health Department Office Location
2nd Floor, 300 4th St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601
Main Business Phone: 608-785-9872
Email: [email protected]
In a public health emergency call 911
WI Relay Service and Interpretation Services Available
Office Hours: 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday; some service hours may vary