TRAVERSE CITY — Bacteria levels in Suttons Bay are just high enough that officials advise against above-the-waist swimming.
Members of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay test a variety of public beaches in the area. Their tests from Suttons Bay South Shore Park and Marina Park showed 573 and 339 E. coli per 100 milliliters of water respectively.
Levels up to 300 are considered safe for swimming, while those above 300 are considered safe for water activities but unsafe for exposure above the waist. E. coli levels above 1,000 are considered unsafe for any body contact.
E. coli is a bacterial found in the fecal matter of warm-blooded animals.
“You’re not going to usually get hugely sick from E. coli,” said Maureen Pfaller, program coordinator at the Watershed Center. “It is an indicator for fecal bacteria, so you could have pathogens or other sorts of things mixed in. It’s an indicator for worse things that could be in the water.”
E. coli levels typically spike after rain.
“Which we had Tuesday night,” Pfaller said. “Then Wednesday was cold and a little drizzly, as well as a lot of cloud cover. We didn’t have a chance to have the sun bleach the water after that rain event.”
Pfaller said it’s unlikely the advisory will continue Friday.