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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2009, Article ID 876050, 9 pages
Research Article

Effects of Rainfall on E. coli Concentrations at Door County, Wisconsin Beaches

1Department of Biology and Microbiology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 800 Algoma Boulevard, Oshkosh, WI 54901, USA
2Door County Soil & Water Conservation Department, 421 Nebraska Street, P.O. Box 670, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, USA

Received 6 February 2009; Revised 29 July 2009; Accepted 16 November 2009

Academic Editor: Daniele Daffonchio

Copyright © 2009 Gregory T. Kleinheinz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Rainfall and its associated storm water runoff have been associated with transport of many pollutants into beach water. Fecal material, from a variety of animals (humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife), can wash into beach water following rainfall and result in microbial contamination of the beach. Many locales around the world issue pre-emptive beach closures associated with rainfall. This study looked at eight beaches located in Door County, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan to determine the impact of rainfall on E. coli concentrations in beach water. Water samples were collected from beach water and storm water discharge pipes during rainfall events of 5 mm in the previous 24 hours. Six of the eight beaches showed a significant association between rainfall and elevated beach water E. coli concentrations. The duration of the impact of rainfall on beach water E. coli concentrations was variable (immediate to 12 hours). Amount of rainfall in the days previous to the sampling did not have significant impact on the E. coli concentrations measured in beach water. Presence of storm water conveyance pipes adjacent to the beach did not have a uniform impact on beach water E. coli concentrations. This study suggests that each beach needs to be examined on its own with regard to rain impacts on E coli concentrations in beach water.