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Water Quality Testing
Intro to testing
Every summer the Wayne County Department of Environmental Health monitors the concentrations of Esherichia Coli (E. coli) bacteria at seven locations in Belleville Lake, including 3 sample points at the Van Buren Park Beach. The County samples at these locations to protect the health of those that enjoy full body recreational contact with the water.
What is E. coli?
E. coli is bacteria that
lives in the intestinal tract of warm blooded animals (e.g. humans, raccoons and
geese). Because of this, it is a
good indicator of sewage in our waterways.
E. coli themselves is not harmful but serves as an indicator of potential
disease carrying pathogens in sewage. So
why doesn’t Wayne County test for the pathogens rather than E. coli? There are
two reasons: (1) Test for E. coli are much quicker and less expensive than test
for pathogens. (2) Because of the
shorter time required to test for E. coli, if there is a problem officials can
declare the water unsafe before anyone gets sick.
Sources of E. coli
E. coli comes from both
point and non-point sources. Point
sources include combined sewer overflow, sanitary sewer overflows, and illicit
connections to the storm system. An
illicit connection occurs when a pipe that should be connected to the sanitary
system is connected to the storm system. Non-point
sources include failing septic tanks and animal waste from agricultural sources
or storm water runoff.
Water Quality Standards for E. coli
The Michigan Water Quality Standards and Public Health Code limits the concentration of E. coli in surface waters of the state. For total body contact recreation the limit is 130 E. coli per 100 milliliters (ml) of water for a 30-day geometric mean and 300 E. coli for a one day geometric mean. The limit for partial body contact is 1000 E. coli per 100 ml of water.
How often is the water tested?
Wayne County samples weekly
at seven locations from the middle of May to till the end of August.
The samples are sent to a private lab and analyzed using standard
What if we exceed the levels?
If the levels are exceeded Wayne County will issue a notice to Van Buren Township to close the beach at Van Buren Park. The County will then continue to monitor the beach water quality until the E. coli levels fall below the standards. Usually this is less than 48 hours since wind, wave action, and ultraviolet light from the sun helps to reduce bacteria levels.
How are the sample results so far this year?
The first sample was taken on May 10, 2001 and has been sampled every week since then. As of August 1st, the lake has been sampled 13 times and in every case the samples showed that the lake is safe for all recreational activities. During the summer of 2000, the lake was sampled a total of 14 times from mid-May till the end of August by Wayne County and in all cases the samples showed that the lake was safe for recreation.
Van Buren Township © 2003