Swim at your own risk: High E. coli count closes seven Michigan beaches | Bridge Michigan

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Farm manure and sewage runoff are also common culprits of elevated E. coli levels. 

Beaches that remain closed (as of Monday)

  • Lake Michigan – Henes Park, Menominee County
  • Lake St. Clair – St. Clair Shores Memorial Park Beach, Macomb County
  • Saginaw Bay – Whites Beach, Arenac County
  • Saginaw Bay/Lake Huron – Arenac County Park, Arenac County
  • Saginaw Bay/Lake Huron – Hammel Beach Road Access, Arenac County
  • Saginaw Bay/Lake Huron – Twining Road Beach, Arenac County
  • Saginaw Bay/Lake Huron – Singing Bridge Beach, Arenac County

For now, closed beaches are waiting for bacteria levels to return to normal. The beaches should be opened by Wednesday, said Briggs.

What’s the deal with E. coli?

What do animal feces, farm manure and sewage all have in common? Poop, which is where E. coli is found.


EGLE says water is only safe for swimming if the level of E. coli falls below a daily mean of 300 per 100 milliliters. 

Swimmers should stay out of waters infested with higher levels of E. coli or risk developing symptoms such as skin rashes, diarrhea and vomiting.

How to prevent closures

Why is dirty, contaminated water running into our beaches in the first place? 

The main problem is rain, said Briggs. 

Some parks groom their beaches every day to remove seagull and goose feces and keep them from contaminating the water. 

For other beaches, like those collecting runoff from nearby rivers, more needs to be done upstream to keep pollution from their shores. 

As Bridge has previously reported, pollution from failing septic systems can drain into lakes and cause closures. Michigan grants are helping homeowners fix their septic systems to prevent pollution. 

In another effort to keep beachgoers safe from contaminated waters, health departments are using a faster water-quality testing method called qPCR. Results come back within the same day, cutting wait time by half or more, said Briggs. 

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