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EPA proposal over warning people about contaminated beach water not well received

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - State and local officials along the Great Lakes are upset about a federal proposal to reduce the threshold for warning people about contaminated beach water.

The EPA told states a couple years ago to update their standards for protecting swimmers from fecal E-coli contamination on coastal beaches.

Now, the EPA wants states to warn swimmers about possible contamination once fecal bacteria reaches lower levels than in the past -- and if it's not enough, states could lose federal funding to test the waters for things like E-coli.

Michigan officials say Great Lakes states will probably forfeit their federal testing money this year, because their legislatures would not have time to change their laws to meet the new reporting requirements. A public comment period for the measure ended in late May.

The EPA's Betsy Southerland says a final decision will be made by the end of July.

Last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council said Wisconsin had the 8th-worst beaches among 30 coastal states. It said 14 percent of the Badger State's water samples failed to meet new EPA standards for safe swimming waters.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)