“An opportunity to rally together:” WI beaches 8th worst in the country…so what can be done?

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Swimming in...feces?! Fecal matter and other contaminants have contributed to Wisconsin beaches being ranked the eighth worst in the United States! But despite the bad report card, officials are optimistic.

On a hot day at South Shore Beach, the water can see very inviting!

"We are just kicking our feet in the sand and having a good time," Stephanie Falek said.

As it turns out, there could be more than just waves in the water!

"We`ve got the boat launch and we`ve got the migratory birds that just don`t leave like they used to and the E. coli from bird droppings -- both geese and gulls cause a problem. It's also the storm water runoff from the roads," Laura Schloesser with Milwaukee County Parks said.

Schloesser says those and other contaminants have contributed to Milwaukee's South Shore Beach being ranked the eighth worst in the United States by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"South Shore Beach has been on what we call the 'icky beach list' for awhile," Schloesser said.

South Shore Beach has had problems in the past with water quality, and was designated one of 17 "repeat offender" beaches -- but Schloesser is trying to think positively.

"I don`t really look at this as a negative. I think it`s an opportunity to rally everyone together," Schloesser said.

Beach-goers are happy to have the information -- but they're also trying to stay positive.

"I feel at least they are paying attention to it and they will do something about it -- and in the future, it will be an improved place to play," Falek said.

Officials say they are looking at ways to improve the water quality at South Shore and other beaches.

"We implemented and built rain gardens on the beach between Lincoln Memorial Drive on the pavement and Lake Michigan. As the water sheets off the road, it naturally filters through the rain gardens before it hits Lake Michigan. It's very much an opportunity for everyone to work together -- and come together to make our beaches awesome," Schloesser said.

Beach improvement efforts have already begun.

A study is being done to find ways to reconfigure the pavement areas as well as the beach.

Also -- a beach groomer is being used to help filter and flip the sand to remove garbage and help to reduce contaminants.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Wisconsin's beaches.