News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

E. Coli advisory receives mixed reception

By Scott Sullivan


Last week’s Oval Beach E. Coli warning didn’t keep everyone out of Lake Michigan.

Five days of 90° heat sent many into the waves regardless, witness the photo above taken June 19. 

The City of Saugatuck posted a warning sign at the park’s entry booth June 17 on receiving Allegan County Health Department notice,

but many chose not to heed it.

Being an advisory, not mandate, it went unenforced. The county lifted it Friday, June 21.d

E. coli is a group of bacteria that can cause infections in your gastro-intestinal and urinary tracts, plus other parts of your body. 

Most of the time, it can live in your gut without hurting you. But some strains can make you sick with watery diarrhea, vomiting and a fever. 

The Michigan Public Health Code sets the water-quality standard for E. Coli at 300 bacteria per 100 milliliters on any daily reading and 130 bacteria per 100 ml. over a 30-day average.

Three Oval Beach tests done earlier this year all came in well below 130. The test on June 12 registered a 12.1 average.

The test done five days later was close to 2,400. The advisory said the sudden spike was due to a nearby runoff. Oval Beach was last closed in July 2021 for a similar stormwater runoff issue.

“ACHD advises against swimming/total body contact with the water at this time and has posted an advisory sign at the beach,” the department posted on social media

“ACHD will be taking additional samples and provide an update when the advisory is lifted,” the department said.

The department advised using a restroom before swimming and avoiding water that “smells foul, looks murky or immediately after a heavy rain.” It also encouraged people not to swallow lake water and to wash their hands before eating.

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