Health Department to test Whitney Drain water
WHITNEY TOWNSHIP — The Whitney Intercounty Drainage Board, during its April 14 meeting, passed a motion to give the Central Michigan District Health Department $3,500 to take water samples along the Whitney Drain throughout May.
The money will allow Mark Janeczko, environmental health supervisor of Arenac County, to sample 13 sites along the drain five times during the month of May.
The township applied for grant money through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to deal with the E. coli problem at the drain. However, both Janeczko and Arenac County Drain Commissioner Larry Davis said that getting a head start might give them a better chance of securing more grant money.
“Last year was the first year we had the beach closed every weekend, except for one weekend in September,” Janeczko said, explaining the importance of figuring out the source of the E. coli.
Janeczko will take three water samples at 13 sites along the drain, starting from where the drain goes into Lake Huron and working his way up to the county line, which covers about five miles, Janeczko said.
He also said that the samples will go to a lab in Gladwin, which can provide results in only a couple days.
Standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency state that the water shouldn’t have more that 130 E. coli per 100 milliliters for a 30-day mean and shouldn’t go over 300 E. coli per 100 ml as a daily mean. If the 30-day mean exceeds 130 E. coli, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment puts the water under a contamination advisory, which means it’s not safe for body contact.
In July 2009, the 30-day mean at the Singing Bridge was 239 E. coli, and it remained under advisory through September.
The public access was also closed for nine days in 2006 and has had 16 closure advisories since 2003.
“This beach gets a lot of tourism,” Janeczko said, adding that it’s important to get to water clean for those who want to use the beach.
Janeczko said that he has met people from Texas, Iowa and Germany when he has gone to the beach to post a closure, so it is not just local Michigan residents who will benefit from having cleaner water.