Don’t swallow Lake Michigan water at Ottawa County park, health department warns

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI – E. coli at a Lake Michigan beach continues to be a concern as dredging has resumed in the Grand Haven Channel.

An advisory to “take precautions” at North Beach Park in Ferrysburg has been issued by the Ottawa County Health Department.

Levels of the bacteria have been “fluctuating,” and the latest water sample collected on Tuesday, July 18, indicated E. coli levels were just over the acceptable levels for total body contact, according to the notice.

That sample showed 304.89 E. coli per 100 milliliters of water. The acceptable level is 300.

As a result, the health department advises the following precautions when visiting the park:

  • Don’t swallow lake water and avoid getting it in your mouth.
  • Wash your hand with soap and water before eating.
  • Shower when you return home.
  • Don’t swim in water that “appears murky, smells foul or looks polluted in any way.”

The advisory will remain in place until dredging concludes, according to the notice from the health department.

Dredging was suspended from July 7-12 after E. coli levels were measured at much higher levels on July 5. At that time, the E. coli level was 1,795 E. coli per 100 milliliters and a no-contact warning for the water was issued by the health department.

E. coli is present in fecal material and it’s suspected that sewage treatment overflows into the Grand River prompted by heavy rains could have contributed to the high numbers.

The dredging is being done in the area where the Grand River empties into Lake Michigan. Some of the dredged material, which includes significant amounts of river water, is being placed along the shoreline at the county’s North Beach Park, according to information supplied earlier by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Army Corps has contracted with King Co. of Holland to dredge the channel, which is expected to be completed by the end of the month.

When dredging resumed on July 12, the Army Corps began its own testing of the water and additional signs and fencing were placed around the dredging outflow pipe to discourage the public from swimming nearby.

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