CMDHD: Do not swim at Whites Beach

E. coli levels exceed state standard

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STANDISH TWP. — Whites Beach residents have been advised not to swim at the beach after a water quality test conducted by the Central Michigan District Health Department Monday, June 10, indicated that the water’s E. coli level was well over the state’s standard level.

The maximum amount of E. coli in a body of water the state accepts is 300 E. coli per 100 milliliters, according to CMDHD Director of Environmental Health Steve King, and the Whites Beach sample showed 1,203 E. coli per 100 milliliters.

“There is potential for various infections, skin infections, eye infections, sore throats and gastrointestinal issues; it just depends on what someone might encounter in that water,” King said. “E. coli is an indicator, so when we have a higher level of it, there’s a potential for more pathogens in that water that people can be exposed to.”

King said the health department will continue to conduct weekly sampling until levels drop below 300 for up to 10 weeks.

He added that it is typical for the levels to naturally decrease as time passes.

“This time last year we had a very similar incident and then it dropped for the rest of the season and was below that standard,” King said. “That’s what we anticipate: it’s going to drop back below, we will remove the advisory and continue to monitor.”

In addition to measuring levels of E. coli, the department will also test the water for markers to determine if the E. coli is coming from humans, cows or birds, King said, adding that identifying the source of E. coli will help in determining the best solutions to keep the beach safe for recreation.

“I know that the Whites Beach area is in the process of installing water and sewer, which will help with on-site sewage disposal problems, so we are looking forward to that,” King said.

In partnership with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Standish Township is currently in the planning process of constructing a water and sewer lines going up Sturman Road, east on Whites Beach Road all the way to the beach, which will serve residents of the Whites Beach subdivision. “We’ve always been aware of the water-quality issues,” township Supervisor Bob North said. “And that’s what inspired us to get this project going. These findings just solidify an issue we’ve been speaking to and trying to work out.”

Results of the tests can be viewed at www.deq.state.mi.us/beach.

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