Vilas County Public Health - Environmental Services

Inspections & Licensing

The Food Safety and Recreational Licensing staff are responsible for managing programs that enforce applicable state administrative codes for the inspection and licensure of restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, public swimming pools including water park attractions, campgrounds, and tattoo and body piercing establishments.


Covid 19 Resources

Construction Guide

Codes & Regulations


 Bed & Breakfasts

Tattoo and Body Piercing


Certified Food Manager


Mobile Food Establishments


Recreational and Educational Camps

Public Pools

Other Sections


Water Testing & Beach Monitoring

Drinking a glass of water

Water Testing Lab

A water test for bacteria and nitrates should be done yearly. This can be done right through the Vilas County Public Health Department. Special sampling bottles must be used for water testing and are ready for pick-up at the the Health Department (330 Court Street, Eagle River), Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm.

Water samples should be taken the same day as they are brought in for testing and can be dropped off at the the Health Department during the following times:

Monday and Tuesday only from 8:00am-3:00pm - Labor Day to Memorial Day and

Monday - Thursday from 8:00am to 3:00pm - Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The cost is the following for these two tests and others:

  • Bacteria: $20.00
  • Nitrates: $15.00
  • Arsenic: $20.00
  • Lead: $30.00
  • Cumulative Only: $10.00
  • Homeowner Kit: Bacteria, Nitrates, Arsenic and Cumulative tests. (Cumulative test includes: Hardness, pH, Iron, Alkalinity and Total Dissolved Solids): $55.00

Additional fee for collection of private samples in Vilas County by staff:  $30.00

Additional fee for collection of private samples in neighboring counties by staff:  $50.00

Additional fees apply for RUSH orders.  Contact the Health Dept. at 715-479-3656.

Watch our videos below on how to properly take water samples:

Answers to questions about common water contaminants in drinking water

Beach Monitoring

Vilas County conducts beach monitoring at several locations starting Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend each year. The beaches are checked for fecal coliforms and Escherichia coli (E. coli). These bacteria show that there may be more hazardous bacteria in the water.

The intent of the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) - 2002, is to preserve recreational waters and to protect the health of the public. The inland beach testing program is supported through a partnership between UW-Oshkosh and the Vilas County Public Health Department.  All Vilas County beaches have been monitored since 2003 at no cost to the County.

UW-Oshkosh students monitor Vilas and Oneida County beaches once a week throughout the summer. Based on beach water sample results, a beach is:

  • Open for swimming,
  • Posted with an "Advisory", or
  • Posted as "Closed" based on the number of E. coli in the water sample.

If an advisory or closure is posted, the beach is resampled that day, and sampling will continue until bacteria levels are at a safe level for swimming. E. coli contamination of the water can come from a number of sources, such as waterfowl, dirty diapers, dogs, and rain water runoff.

For more information about the sampling process or procedure contact the Vilas County Health Department at 715-479-3656.


Beaches being monitored in Vilas and Oneida Counties:

Vilas CountyOneida County
  • Crystal Lake
  • Big Arbor Vitae
  • Brandy Lake
  • Clear Lake
  • Anvil Lake
  • North Twin Lake
  • Lac Vieux Dessert
  • Black Oak Lake
  • Hunter Lake
  • Torch Lake
  • Eagle Lake
  • Silver Lake
  • Leach Beach Crawling Stone Lake
  • Pokegama (Casino Beach)
  • Campground Beach Flambeau Lake
  • Hodag Park
  • Maple Lake
  • Torpy Park
  • Buck Lake




Recreational Water Illnesses (RWI) 

typcially affect young children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems after coming in contact with polluted water. The bacteria gets in people's bodies usually through swallowing water or having the bacteria on your skin and then eating food or touching your mouth or eyes without washing your hands.

Symptoms or signs are generally short lived and not severe.The most common symptoms are the following:

  • Vomiting,
  • Fever, and
  • Headaches, or
  • Ear, eye, nose, and throat infections.

West Nile Virus (WNV) 

West Nile Virus, or WNV,  is a disease transmitted by a certain breed of mosquito. The bite of an infected mosquito can spread the virus to humans, birds and horses. West Nile Virus can be fatal although most humans that get bitten do not become ill, and horses can be vaccinated.

In Wisconsin, WNV has been identified since the Summer of 2002. Surveillance for wild bird morbidity and mortality appears to be one of the most sensitive early detection systems for WNV. The virus can infect a wide range of bird species, with corvids (crows, jays, and ravens) being highly susceptible to WNV. Once a highly susceptible bird becomes infected with WNV, death can occur within five to seven days. Dead birds are most often found singly in one place at one time, not in mass die-offs.

More Information


Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 20,000 Americans each year. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and chemically inert radioactive gas. Formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water, radon occurs naturally at low levels in the earth throughout the United States. Unless it is specifically tested for, radon cannot be detected.

Radon Test Kits

To promote the awareness of radon risks, the Vilas County Public Health Department provides radon testing kits for $15.00 each. Stop by the Vilas County Public Health Department at 330 Court Street. Eagle River, Wisconsin to pick up a radon test kit. If a high radon level is detected in your home, you can take steps to fix the problem to protect yourself and your family. Call the Public Health Department at 715-479-3656 if you have any questions.

For more detailed information about radon, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Radon page or review A Citizen's Guide to Radon (.pdf). For a list of Radon Measurement and Mitigation Contractors, visit:

Interactive map of radon levels in Wisconsin

During the month of February, kits are available at the Vilas County Public Health Department for $15.00. Please call 715-479-3656 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to reserve your kit. Quantities are limited.