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High Levels of Human Bacteria Found Along Lake St. Clair Beaches

Extensive testing of bacteria taken from water samples along Lake St. Clair discovered high concentrations of human DNA.

An extensive test of water samples taken in 2011 at and Metro Beach by Michigan State University discovered bacteria with high levels of human DNA.

The findings were presented during a Water Quality Town Hall hosted by State Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township., at MacRay Harbor.

"We found some markers that are human specific," said Dr. Joan B. Rose, Michigan State University, who found higher levels at the St. Clair Shores beach. "We've got greater human signatures impacting Memorial Beach more so than Metro Beach."

The nine samples were taken over a two-month period during the summer of 2011 and tested the levels of E. coli, the levels of bacteria from warm blooded animals and the levels with human markers in the water.

Spikes of the human bacteria in the water could be found after rains, especially at Memorial Beach.

Rose said that further studies will be done using data from NOAA, and other sources, to look at wind direction, rainfall and currents to determine their impacts on the beaches.

Additional samples would need to be taken further upstream on the Clinton River, and Clinton River spillway, to determine where the source of the contamination may be located.

"The human makers on the is E. coli is very telling," said Forlini, who believes more work needs to be done following the meeting.

He wants to have a follow up meeting with the DEQ director, Michigan State University scientists and others with expertise in the area. Forlini added, "I don't want this conversation to end right here."

He also wants those who pollute, to pay.

"The polluters need to pay," he added. "They are dumping on us and no one is paying the price other than us."

More than 100 people attended the town hall, including Macomb County Drain Commissioner Anthony Marrocco and St. Clair Shores Mayor Pro-Tem Peter Rubino.

"We have to find out, and push other agencies, to find the source and where it is coming from and get it fixed," Rubino said. "After we have been told (the E. coli) is (caused by) other things, to find out it is human waste is very depressing."

Joe St. John, chairman of the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee, was surprised at the findings.

"It is the first time human waste has been mentioned," he said. "We are trying to bring back confidence in the lake, this is going to tear it up."

Chuck Hall September 06, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Municipalities have a direct responsibility to monitor and maintain their storm drainage systems, retention basins and the amounts of runoff to the watershed. If indeed human waste is entering the lake, assurance needs to be given that the basins are not in failure mode. This is the question I would asked had I been able to attend this meeting.
GP For Life September 06, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Chuck, I can't agree with you more. Between storm sewers that are underspec and out of date and septic systems in some communities, we need to protect the area's greatest asset. By the way, I am not an environmentalist or conservation whack-job. I just believe we shouldn't pee in the water we drink from.
Mark September 06, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Or swim, fish, hunt on.
Todd September 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Blah Blah Blah Blah... This time its human waste instead of industrial waste. This same old dialog has been going on my entire life and I've never seen a single fine, or a root-cause that is real. When somebody starts giving a squirt about this I'll try to get excited. Otherwise, its a bunch of old retired guys being placated by the DEQ and the municipal governments. When the paper reports on it every month of every summer, we all can feel better about the magical 30 year long "investigation." See ya at the pool!
Dorothy Bade September 06, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Remember: Dogs are NOT allowed in the Walter & Mary Burke Park in New Baltimore because - one might poop on the grounds and no one will clean it up - BUT seagulls / geese and the likes poop on the walkways and beaches and it is OK. EColi comes in many forms. I know that N.B. Waste Water does and excellent job of monitoring and following the rules - but those darn, ducks, geese and seagulls could care less. <+><

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