From May to September, bacteria concentrations are monitored bimonthly at inland beaches and recreational areas. Lake Michigan beaches are sampled 4 days a week during these months. The water samples are tested for E coli bacteria, which are found in the intestines of almost all warm-blooded animals. However, not all strains of E coli are the same, and certain strains can make humans sick if ingested in high enough concentrations.
If water samples come back high for E coli (235 E coli/100 ml), the management body for the bathing beach is notified and a sign is posted indicating the beach closure. Additionally, since rain events tend to lead to elevated bacteria levels in the water column, the Lake Michigan Unit (LMU) advises that persons avoid swimming for 48 hours after a large rain event.
Upon receiving a request for service, LMU staff investigates possible pollution sources, fish kills and other lake or pond related inquires throughout the county. Although the Lakes Management Unit is not an enforcement agency, we can direct non-jurisdictional issues to appropriate agencies for enforcement, if necessary.