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Yahara Lakes 101 science cafe with Dr. Sandra McLellan

July 13, 2017 @ 3:00 am - 4:00 am

Bradford Beach in Milwaukee, WI

Learn more about the science behind the issues that affect our lakes!

About the talk: “Tracking Bacterial Contamination in Urban Waterways”

UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences professor Dr. Sandra McLellan has led the cleanup of Milwaukee’s urban beaches, transforming once-problematic destinations like South Shore and Bradford Beach.

On Thursday, July 13th, Dr. McLellan will join us to give a presentation focusing on urban water contamination. We’ll learn how the McLellan lab helped identify sources of harmful bacteria, which led to infrastructure investments by the City of Milwaukee and revitalized downtown beaches.

Talk Abstract

With urban rivers and beaches as the centerpiece of many revitalization efforts, identifying and tracking pollution sources has become more important in recent years. Stormwater has been found to have high levels of E. coli, an indicator of waterborne disease risk. Testing of stormwater outfalls has shown nearly 30% can be contaminated with sanitary sewage leaking from failing infrastructure, sending potential pathogens into recreations waters used for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Urban sewer infrastructure has received a D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers, highlighting how deterioration has outpaced capital investments. Coupled with the pressures of more intense storms due to climate change, water quality could decline.

This talk will focus on the complex problems of urban waterways and how bacterial contamination can be tracked by new methods of detection. Dr. McLellan will also discuss how partnerships have helped address the problems identified during research.

What can we learn from this research and Milwaukee’s cleanup efforts for Lake Michigan? Join us at Yahara Lakes 101 this month to hear more.

About our speakers

Dr. Sandra L. McLellan is a professor and senior scientist at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences. Her lab studies the connections between environmental effects and human health. She is interested in how sewage and pollution can affect the Great Lakes and the incidence of waterbourne diseases. She has been published many times on the link between the MicroBiome and the microbial communities found in freshwater pollution. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Health from the University of Cincinnati and her B.S. in Health Sciences from UW-Milwaukee.

Recent media coverage:
UW-Milwaukee microbiologist leads Lake Michigan’s cleanup crew
This microbiologist is saving Wisconsin’s beaches with DNA sequencing (Motherboard)

About the series

Yahara Lakes 101 is a series of educational events open to the public and a great chance for residents to learn more about the science behind the issues that affect our lakes. Each month we feature a different expert to make the science accessible and interesting to non-technical audiences. Yahara Lakes 101 is produced in partnership with the UW-Madison Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, with hosting sponsor The Edgewater, presenting sponsor First Weber Group, supporting sponsor The Evjue Foundation, and media sponsor The Isthmus.

Yahara 101 is held both indoors and outdoors (weather permitting) at The Edgewater. Come at 7:30 a.m. for a meet-and-greet and to enjoy your coffee, pastries, and fruit. The program begins at 8 a.m., and class is dismissed by 9 a.m.

If you already are a Friend of Clean Lakes (minimum $35 donation/year), then admission is free. Become a Friend today. If you are not a Friend yet, admission is $10 per event. Registration for each event is requested for all attendees. Special event parking will be available at The Edgewater.


July 13, 2017
3:00 am - 4:00 am


Clean Lakes Alliance
(608) 255-1000
View Organizer Website


The Edgewater
1001 Wisconsin Place
Madison, WI 53703 United States
+ Google Map
(608) 535-8200
View Venue Website