Elevated E. coli levels temporarily close beach at Stony Creek Metropark

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published August 3, 2018

Baypoint Beach at Stony Creek Metropark closed Aug. 2 due to elevated E. coli levels, according to park officials.

Baypoint Beach, located at the north of Stony Creek Lake, closed Aug. 2 and re-opened Aug. 3. Eastwood Beach — which has not closed due to elevated E. coli levels since 2010 — and the rest of the park remained open.

In Macomb County, levels of E. coli bacteria — which lives in the digestive systems of humans and warm-blooded animals and is often found in sewage — are monitored by the Macomb County Health Department at six separate public bathing locations with twice-per-week testing samples. The Michigan Public Health Code determines bacterial limits, with higher limits ultimately leading to closures.

Amy McMillan, director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, said the Macomb County Health Department tests the waters at Stoney Creek twice per week from mid-April through September.

On Aug. 1, Macomb County health officials found E. coli levels at the park’s Baypoint Beach to be 1,329 colonies per 100 millimeters of water during routine testing, up from just 27 colonies the day before.

McMillan said health officials notified her of the increase Aug. 2, and she immediately closed Baypoint Beach.

“We had what appears to be a spike in our testing earlier this week. It came in at over 1,000, and the cutoff point for safe swimming is 300,” she said.

Health officials re-tested the waters Aug. 2, which resulted in E.coli levels of 16 colonies per 100 millimeters of water, and they gave McMillan the OK to re-open the beach the morning of Aug. 3.

“It may be that it was just sort of a random spike,” she said.

Earlier this summer, McMillan said, Huron-Clinton Metropark officials initiated a new water testing procedure at Stony Creek Metropark and Lake St. Clair.

“If we have a spike in our E. coli count, we are having the DNA tested. It takes a little bit longer to get the results back than it does a regular E. coli test, but that will help us understand the source of the spike as part of our larger effort to really understand the influences on water quality in our beaches,” she said.

The last time Baypoint Beach was closed due to elevated E. coli levels was in 2016, when it closed twice.

The health department states that risks associated with swimming in water full of bacteria include sore throats and diarrhea, and possibly more serious illnesses.

For more information about beach testing at Stony Creek Metropark, visit https://health.macombgov.org or call the health department at (586) 469-5236. For statewide beach monitoring data, visit http://www.deq.state.mi.us/beach.