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A message with a powerful meaning, group helps turn hazardous lake conditions around

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PEWAUKEE (WITI) -- Keep it clean! That's the message behind the Lake Country Clean Water Festival in Pewaukee. It wasn't that long ago, the beach there was a health hazard, but one group's efforts turned things around.

Jeff Lee is the president of the Pewaukee Lake Water Ski Club. He says the beach, wasn't always so picture perfect.

"It's the biggest lake in Waukesha County - spanning roughly 2,000 acres," said Lee. "Back in 2010, the lake was closed 50% of the summer."

Lee says it was mainly due to ecoli problems brought on by a bunch of birds.

"The gulls would congregate down by the beach where the people were - they'd feed the gulls and they'd defecate on the beach.  After a rain, that would end up in the water," said Lee.

Realizing the lake is a valuable resource for all members of the community, Lee's club established the Lake Country Clean Water Festival four years ago. One of their first tasks was getting rid of the gulls.

"The diamond-shaped spheres you see on two of the light posts over here are the gull deterrent system being used to keep the gulls from the beach," said Lee.

The light reflected from the objects spooks the birds and keeps them away. A cleaner beach means folks like 15-year-old log roller Cameron Pilgreen can feel a little safer out on the water.

"If the lake wasn't clean we wouldn't have safe swimming areas or we wouldn't be able to log roll," said Pilgreen.

The festival has raised $25,000 dollars over the years. The group is still tackling issues -- like run off and debris from nearby homes and farms.

"If you live anywhere within ten miles of Pewaukee Lake, you're considered part of the water shed.  What you do in your lawn - they say if you wouldn't drink it, don't put it on your lawn," said Lee.

Still, they are making a difference. Thanks to the efforts of the festival, the beach hasn't had to close a single day because of health concerns.