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Lake St. Clair 2011 Status

Author By Christy Arboscello on July 29, 2011

E. coli Reaches Highest Level This Summer; Beaches Closed
On Friday, the Macomb County Health Department warned the public not to swim at the beach in New Baltimore.

Rainfall may have been the catalyst for the highest E. coli levels so far this summer in New Baltimore, health officials said Friday.

Excess rain, along with other factors such as bird droppings, often increases bacteria in Lake St. Clair. However, there’s no concrete way to determine why levels on Friday reached 788 E. coli cells per 100 milliliters of water – the highest of the season for Walter and Mary Burke Park, said Steve Lichota, Macomb County associate environmental director of health.

The second-highest level this summer in New Baltimore peaked at 674 cells per 100 milliliters of water June 22, Lichota said. Samples must be below 300 cells per that amount of water in order for it to be deemed safe for swimming, according to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Although swimming was prohibited Friday, the water sample leading to the closure was drawn Thursday from Anchor Bay in New Baltimore. Since water test results take about 17 hours to be conclusive, beach-goers were unaware of the hazardous bacteria levels at the time of sample intake Thursday, according to health officials.

Other beaches in Macomb County also were closed Friday.

Pollution in Lake St. Clair took prominence Thursday, as local and state leaders spoke about the viability of the lake as a major tourism attraction in Michigan as well as the need to stop dumping in the Clinton River, flowing into the lake in Macomb County.

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