Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Friday

June 20, 2014

Health officials warn against swimming at state park beach

TRAVERSE CITY — The Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park’s beaches aren’t safe for full-body contact, thanks to a bout of bacteria.

A water quality test performed at the state park on Wednesday showed 368 of the bacteria E. coli per 100 milliliters of water.

E. coli is a bacteria found in the fecal matter of warm-blooded organisms. The bacteria itself is harmless but could indicate the presence of something more sinister, said Tom Buss, the director of environmental health and animal control for the Grand Traverse County Health Department.

“It’s still safe to get in and wade and fish and boat; we just don’t want people in swimming above the waist with their heads in the water,” Buss said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recommends people avoid contact with the water above the waist. It’s considered safe for wading, fishing and boating.

Buss said he was hopeful a Thursday water test would show E. coli levels returned to safe levels. He suspects rain this week caused bacteria levels to rise.

“This week we’ve had a rain spell here and some northern breezes, too,” Buss said. “When we get the onshore breezes a lot of times that will blow in a lot of surface water contaminants, like bird droppings, and mix with the interface of the shore.”

Other county beaches along Grand Traverse Bay are safe for swimming, according to the Grand Traverse County Health Department’s weekly beach report.

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