Visualizing beach stories with MiSwim

Visualizing your story: Michigan Surface Water Information Management System (MiSWIM)
Sometimes visualizing a beach or contamination site’s location can offer a lead to a story. MiSWIM can help.
The system maps major water bodies including streams and lakes, where high beach/E.coli counts have caused beach closures or advisories, locates wastewater discharge points, maps where environmental monitoring is conducted and more. View a full list of map features here.
Or to get to the list of features, go to
Click on Water on the left sidebar.
Click on Water Quality Monitoring on the left sidebar.
Then click on MiSWIM Information Management System.
Getting started:

  1. Go to:
  2. Click on Map Search in the lower right hand corner.
  3. To learn what the database can do, view the help guide for this database. After entering the Map Search feature, click on Help/About in the upper right hand corner to access it.

Examples of what you can do with this database:
Using the Identify Tool:

  1. Zoom in on the area of interest.
  2. Click the Identify Layer drop down menu above the map and choose a layer. Beach/river E. coli, Wastewater discharges and Septage Haulers are examples.

1. Press the “i” to the right of the layer. Now click on a point that is displayed in the area you are studying. The map will display a box of information about that point.

  1. Clicking on the link will take you to the appropriate database. For example with Beach/river E. coli, you’ll be rerouted to Michigan’s BeachGuard database. For Wastewater Discharges, you’ll be given the permit number of the discharging facility you can use as a lead to look up more information.


  1. Another option is to view features (without the Identify Layer tool) by selecting them to the right in the Legend.

Using the Map Tool:

  1. Another way to visualize data and get possible leads is to use the mapping tool.
  2. It may help to click the Zoom button near the Identify Layer toolbox at the top of the map and then draw a square on the map on which you want to focus first.
  3. Then click on the links in the upper right hand corner of the map—Street, Aerial, a Hybrid with aerial views and streets mapped on top, Topographic or Landuse. A key to the different colors (for maps like Landuse) can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the legend to the right of the map.

In this example, the zoom tool was used to focus on Bay County, which has beaches on Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. Wastewater Discharges was selected from the Legend to the right of the map, and the Landuse mapping tool was used to identify types of companies that might have wastewater discharge.
This cluster was found along a river. The Landuse data says most of this land use is industrial.
You can identify the river by clicking on the Streams/Rivers option in the Legend to the right of the map. That feature reveals the discharges along the Saginaw River.
On the following map, the Identify Layer tool was set to Wastewater Discharges. Information about this company was found by selecting a point on the map with the “i” button.