Living Here

The Lake Geneva Beach retaining wall goes in.
Three feet high. Tom Earle, the Public Works Director of Lake Geneva, made sure that this construction would not change the nature and ambiance of Lake Geneva’s downtown beach, or mess with the wonderful ambiance of the Library’s park. The new wall will simply retain the beach and hold back the erosion caused by runoff flowing down from the park through the sand and then into the lake. It’s a win-win situation for all entities, and also takes care of the true needs of both the citizenry and the visiting public.

Beach Wall


The Geneva Lake Environmental Agency (GLEA) monitors the lake’s physical, chemical and biological characteristics as well as water quality and use. GLEA provides the data that it collects, and recommends protective measures regarding the entirety of the lake. Its primary concern and singularity of focus is the protection of Geneva Lake. The GLEA brought the Zebra Mussels problem, low zooplankton, and the increasing salt level situation to the attention of the public.

On a weekly basis, during the summer, the GLEA measures the water quality (bacteria count) around the lake. At the City of Lake Geneva’s Beach, they take three samples (west end, swimming pier and east end). This past summer on July 10, and again on July 24, the readings at the East end, instead of being around 20-30 were about 10 times normal readings (200 and 300 range); whereas, the swimming pier reading was normal, with the east end two to three times higher than normal. Further compounding these findings was the fact that the readings for the east end on the July 17, the week between the two high readings, was exceptionally low.

So what on earth caused these abnormal readings? Were the readings correct? All indications are that they were accurate. Was the weather the cause? Listed with the readings on those days was the information that it rained within 24 hours before the testing (1” on the 17th & ½” on the 24th). This explains some of the abnormal readings, but why were they so high on the east end and not at the swimming pier?

The answer to that question is the flow of the lake’s water going to the Lake Geneva dam and the Riviera complex’s obstruction to that water, as it flows around the Riviera. The water at the west side of the Riviera, next to the swimming area, is a slow circulation dead flow area, which also explains why the east end virtually always has the highest bacteria count of the three readings. As to why the west end readings are higher than the swimming pier, it is believed that it is because of the runoff of the creek at the west end of Library Park, which is most evident in the spring but also seen after rain. As to the actual cause of the high E. coli count after rain, it is believed to be caused by a seagull and other bird droppings on the beach, and the raking of the beach which buries and protects the bacteria from the sun’s UV rays that might normally kill it off. The rain washes it into the lake, and as the rain falling into the lake flows toward the dam, it moves it to the east end. The GLEA can point out the problems, but it takes the city council (if they will listen) to take action to correct them.


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