The Effects of Rainfall on Escherichia coli and Total Coliform Levels at 15 Lake Superior Recreational Beaches
Fifteen beaches along Lake Superior were monitored over the course of the 2003 and 2004 summer swimming seasons from mid-May through mid-September. Water samples were collected at these 15 beaches less than 24-h after a rainfall event of at least 6 mm. The effect of rainfall on bacterial concentrations along theWisconsin shores of Lake Superiorwas investigated.Water samples were collected at a water depth of 24–30 inches as specified by the requirements of the WI BEACH Program. The Colisure test was utilized for Escherichia coli (E. coli) and coliform determinations. No relationship between rainfall amount and bacterial concentrations at any of the 15 beaches tested was found. Although other researchers have observed a direct positive relationship between rainfall and E. coli levels in beach water, we found no significant relationship for Lake Superior beaches. This is an important finding given the fact that beach closures are often based upon rainfall alone, rather than on actual E. coli concentration measurements. This study reinforces the fact that the data obtained at one location should not necessarily be extrapolated to beach closure decisions at other locations.