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The beautiful beaches of the Great Lakes still lag in water quality.

Report: Wisconsin beaches still too contaminated

The Great Lakes continue to lead the nation as far as water contamination levels go, with Wisconsin reporting the second-worst contamination rate in the country, according to the 23rd annual beach water quality report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Milwaukee's South Shore Beach was listed as a "repeat offender," indicating that it repeatedly exhibits chronically high bacteria counts.

In 2012 American beaches experienced 20,120 days of closings due to advisories (80 percent of which stemmed from contamination), down 14 percent from 2011 due to low rainfall. However, Great Lakes beaches exhibited 10 percent of water samples exceeding beach water bacteria standards, compared to only 4 percent in the Southeastern states.

"This report once again shows that we need to do a better job taking care of the Great Lakes," said Henry Henderson, NRDC's Midwest Director.

"Great Lakes cities have invested heavily to make our fresh coast into an amenity for millions of residents and tourists every year. But those investments cannot be fully realized until we get serious about stormwater and sewage. Our beaches don't improve quality of life if they sicken people, especially as climate change impacts and invasive species have the potential to turbocharge the already messy situation in our lakes."

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