BATH TWP., Mich. — Swimmers are being advised to temporarily avoid Park Lake in Bath Township after health officials found high levels of E. coli in the water.
The Mid-Michigan Health Department started monitoring water quality at six beaches in Clinton, Gratiot and Montcalm counties for the first time last week.
“Out of the six lakes in our district, we had one that had elevated E. coli results,” said MMHD Environmental Health Director Liz Braddock.
Tests showed E. coli levels in Park Lake were well over what's considered safe.
“In our first week of sampling, we noted that the water quality at Park beach was concerning and that it was above the standard for total body count, meaning for swimming in the lake," Braddock said.
E. coli levels should not exceed 300 E. coli per 100 milliliters of water, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
“When we do the sampling we wade into waist deep water and then we take three samples within close proximity," said Braddock.
The three samples taken last week from Park Lake had an average of 443.2. The Health Department re-sampled the water on Wednesday and results came back higher, with a total of 756.2 E. coli.
“With two samples we now have a bit of a baseline so we will continue an ongoing investigation into this,” Braddock said.
There is now a swim advisory in place warning people to swim at their own risk.
E. coli is known to cause rashes, illness, and gastrointestinal issues if consumed.
“We started this program so that we could inform the general public and those that recreate in our area of the condition of the lake and the water quality so people can make an informed decision if they are maybe at risk of illness or at risk of getting sick if they were to accidentally ingest the water that has E. coli,” Braddock said.
The health department will go back out Friday morning to re-sample the lake again to see if they can trace the E. coli back to the source.
“Maybe we can see possibly some wild foul that may be an issue. Maybe there is an issue with the topography that we can visually see and then the plan is to continue to sample and re-sample weekly," Braddock said.
Braddock said they will work with Bath Twp. to decide if the beach can remain open or needs to close. Retesting will continue throughout the summer.
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