Life On The Beach: Happy New Year, Beach Style

Why we all feel the pain of beach closings

Jun 30, 2011

Photo By: Lukas Keapproth

As the 2011 beach season begins, Madison lifeguards are jittery with excitement. Some finished school more than a month ago and are itching for a paycheck. Others just got out and can’t wait to dust off their whistles. No matter the motivation, city guards are pulling out their red suits and visors and gearing up for another season at the beach. However, as a city guard, we’re all left stranded with one unanswered question nagging at the back of our minds; how many hours are we going to lose this year due to beach closings?

The summer thunderstorm is kind of like a snow day to us. Thanks to Mother Nature, we get the day off and we welcome the rare occasion to lie around on the couch. But when shifts constantly get cancelled due to unhealthy lake conditions and hours are stolen by blue-green algae, it starts to ware on us, not to mention our bank account. We get complaints every year and there’s nothing we can do but sympathize and explain the circumstances. We feel that pain too.

During every shift we work to clean up our beaches. We rake, pull weeds, dispose of gross substances and get rid of dead fish. We strive to keep our beaches clean not only for our patrons, but for the completely selfish reason that we want to get paid. Showing up for a 10:30 am shift only to find a “Beach Closed” sign posted by the Health Department isn’t how I personally like to start my day.

What people don’t realize is that beach closings are a serious problem. Madison prides itself on our beautiful lakes. Mendota and Monona, supplemented by Kegonsa, Waubesa and Wingra, provide residents and tourists alike with countless recreational activities. Who wants to come visit when you can look, but not touch? What will happen when you can’t swim your dog off the dock? And, you should probably start to sell that intertube and those water skis because soon, the lakes won’t be healthy to swim in. On those hot summer days, where are you going to take your sweltering toddler? Something needs to be done.

This summer, ask yourself what you can do to help. From not feeding the ducks and geese to telling your local farmer about phosphorous runoff, there are plenty of ways you can get involved. Clean up after yourself and do what you can to help keep our lakes beautiful and healthy. In August, take part in the Clean Lakes Festival. Even if it’s just picking up that plastic cup you went by while walking your dog, you’ll know you contributed something to Madison greatest resource, and the lifeguards’ hours.

 

Check out more Life On The Beach blog posts. Return to Crazy 4 Lakes page.

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