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A Special WUWM News SeriesThe Milwaukee River allowed commerce and industry to thrive during the city's formative years and provided recreation. However, disregard for the river's health led to decades of decay.WUWM News explores recent developments to rejuvenate the Milwaukee River and their success at drawing people back to the city's historic arterial.

South Shore Beach Goes Green for Science

This morning, at Milwaukee’s South Shore Beach, researchers poured batches of nontoxic green dye into the water.Update from Dr. Sandra McLellan: "Winds from the south caused the dye plume to quickly move towards the north from the proposed beach site.  The water movement at the current beach moved more slowly. We should be able to use the dye concentration data to quantify the difference. Well do this again when winds are from the north."

South Shore Beach consistently ranks as one of the most contaminated in the country.

Sandra McLellan and her team from UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences want to figure out what changes might lead to a safer beach – such as, moving it.

We met on the big parking lot that links the marina and swimming area. McLellen says that’s one of the problems – two city blocks of pavement slope toward the water.

Another concern is South Shore Beach's location. That's where McLellan will pour a liter of concentrated fluoresceine.

"It's a bright green dye. I think it alarms people because it looks like antifreeze."

Simultaneously, her team will drop the die at a spot around a rocky point just to the south of the existing beach.

This stretch just south of the existing beach will also be tested.

"Teams of students will take samples ten meters away, twenty meters away. And we're going to take samples every twenty minutes. And hopefully we're going to watch to dye disperse and disappear altogether. "

McLellan aims to determine how long it would take water to move away from the beach if there is contamination in one spot versus another.

"Then we can compare them directly. It took five hours at the existing beach and maybe it will only take an hour or two at the proposed beach."

Dr. Sandra McLellan is a senior scientist at the UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences. You’ll find her this morning coordinating a nontoxic green dye study at South Shore Beach.

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