November 1, 2014

Whitney Township waiting on GLRI announcement

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WHITNEY TOWNSHIP — Whitney Township is still waiting to find out if it will receive grant money from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The E. coli issue at the Singing Bridge is one of 49 proposals submitted throughout the state within the beach sanitary survey category of the GLRI program.

The beach survey category allocates a total of $12 million for proposals, with a limit of $250,000 per proposal.

With that limit in place, 48 of the 49 proposals can be funded, said Shannon Briggs of the Department of Environmental Quality.

Proposals were due at the end of January, and awards will be given out after the GLRI committee finishes reviewing all proposals.

“They’re committed to getting these things out as soon as they can,” Briggs said.

Funds from the GLRI grant will go to investigating and clearing out E. coli at the Singing Bridge public access. At a Nov. 11 Whitney Township meeting, Briggs met with the township to discuss the grant, which would include an investigation at the beach, monitoring the E. coli levels, finding the sources of the E. coli and fixing the problem.

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 DEQ puts the water under a contamination advisory, which means it’s not safe for body contact.

In July 2009, the 30-day mean 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.

The type of E. coli is still undetermined and could be harmless, but further tests have to be done, which would be part of the GLRI grant if Whitney Township receives it.

Whitney Township will be meeting again with representatives from the DEQ March 18.

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