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Residents concerned over E. coli found in Portland

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 19:18:43-04

PORTLAND, Mich. — You're not going to want to swim or go fishing in the Grand River in parts of Mid-Michigan.

That's because there's E. coli in the water in Ionia County. State tests found it near Portland and Saranac. The tests revealed high levels of E. coli. in parts of the river. Residents in the town say they're surprised but also concerned as to what that means.

"We had just gone kayaking a couple of weeks ago. It's pretty concerning with how high those levels were. That's not good," Kiley Hilligan said. Hilligan lives in Portland and owns ConfluxCity Brewing Company.

One of the sites with "high levels" was on Kent St. in Portland, and the other was in Saranac. People who live in Portland say they're happy to be kept in the know, but still have a lot of questions.

"I would like some more information about what is causing it and you know, if this the only location? Is it something that as a community we are doing here? Is it coming from another location?" Liz Miller said. Miller owns Miller in Motion in town.

Ionia County Health Department Health Officer Ken Bowen says the level of 1,181 E. Coli per 100 milliliters is enough to make someone sick. He says only certain strains can make you sick and there isn't a way to know which kind is in the river without more testing. But symptoms would be vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. He added that they aren't sure where it is coming from.

"We are erring on the side of caution, so my advice would be: don't come into contact with the river water. But that's a recommendation. You're not prohibited from going in the river water. Every person needs to make their own choice. We want to give them the information they need to make the best choice possible," Bowen said.

Bowen added if you do go in the river, to wash your hands and body thoroughly. But people who live in town, or simply those who enjoy the river say they are now thinking twice before heading out.

"I have a husband who fishes, so I am definitely going to make sure he doesn't think 'oh well I'll go anyways and not' and tell him not to go," resident and owner of Peppermint Twist Lora Lee Hilligan said.

As of Thursday, the Ionia County Health Department is recommending "no body contact" in the river. They said they will let the public know when the Public Health Advisory is lifted.

We checked with the Ingham County health department, it says no E. coli has been found in the river there. We also called the Barry-Eaton health department, we'll let you know when they get back to us.

Ionia County and the state say more testing will be done on the river on Monday.

For more information on E. coli, click here.

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