The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is searching for answers as a local beach has had a partial body contact advisory since late August.
Richardi Park Beach in Bellaire is no stranger to higher E. coli levels, but this year those levels are higher and have stuck around longer than health officials expected.
“To the best of my knowledge it’s never had levels over 300 and then maintained over 300 for as long as it currently is,” admits the Environmental Health Coordinator at the Health Department, Casey Clement.
E. coli levels lower than 300 is safe for full body contact while anywhere between 300 and 1,000 is considered safe for partial body contact.
Fecal matter left by waterfowl has been the reason in the past for the higher E. coli levels, but now Health Officials say they’re not sure if something else could be causing it.
“I’m not entirely sure. I think once we do that source tracking on the water samples it will be able to tell us more,” Clement hopes.
The Health Department has collected additional samples from the Intermediate River and the mouth of the Cedar River to try and figure out the cause of the higher levels.
“Our department is saving those samples and is going to be doing source tracking later this winter to see if we can figure out what the source of that E. coli is.
Health officials say they’re not sure when they’ll figure out the E. coli levels, but say they’ll continue to keep people up to date at their website.