Precautionary beach closures in place in Western UP

Published: Jun. 18, 2018 at 1:25 PM EDT
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Heavy rains in the Western Upper Peninsula have resulted in severe erosion and flooding. Recreational beaches may have been compromised by runoff water and erosion. Western U.P. Health Department is issuing a precautionary beach closure for all recreational bathing beaches in the Western Upper Peninsula. It is recommended that the public not swim in lakes until the flood waters have subsided and the water is determined to be safe for swimming.

Higher than normal E. coli numbers can be expected after heavy rainstorms, especially if large numbers of geese and gulls frequent a beach. Rainstorms wash bird and animal droppings and any other contaminants from the ground surfaces into the lake water, increasing the amount of E.coli in the water. Heavy rain events also may result in combined sewer overflow events from municipal sewer systems that significantly compromise surface water quality. Symptoms of exposure to E. coli include gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the presence of E. coli bacteria in large numbers indicates that fecal contamination has occurred and harmful pathogens may be present in the water. Any beach with an unacceptable E. coli level would be closed to swimming by the Health Department in order to protect public health until the contamination has cleared.

This precautionary beach closure advisory remains in effect until results from the sampling verify the water is safe for body contact. Health Department staff will conduct sampling of beach water to determine if the water is safe for swimming. Another notice will be issued when the swimming advisory has been lifted. If you have questions regarding swimming safety, contact Tanya Rule, WUPHD Environmental Health Director, at 906-482-7382.