New Water Quality Testing To Begin At Michigan Beaches

LANSING — State officials said Thursday that Michigan will become the first state to monitor beaches using a new, rapid testing method for water quality to quickly address potential public health concerns and keep people safe.

The new method, known as quantitative polymerase chain reaction, quickly identifies in a beach water sample the presence of the DNA of E. coli — a bacterium associated with contamination from sewage, and which can cause serious food poisoning symptoms in some cases.

The new process provides results the same day a sample is taken, leading to faster beach closings where E.coli is detected. Traditional culture-based methods required a day to allow a culture to grow, which meant beaches testing positive could not be closed until the day after drawing a contaminated sample.

“Water is the reason people come to Michigan to live, work and play,” said Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “This rapid testing method will help make visitors’ day at the beach a Pure Michigan experience.”

Daily beach testing results will be posted on the DEQ’s BeachGuard website at www.deq.state.mi.us/beach/ or download the myBeachCast app for iPhone and Android at www.beachcast.glin.net.

The DEQ is hosting the 15th Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Joint Conference Oct. 28-30 at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, where the statewide beach testing results of the QPCR method will be presented. For more information or to register for the conference, visit this link. 

To implement the new water testing process, local health departments recently received $500,000 in grants from the DEQ. Eleven labs statewide will use the DEQ-provided equipment to begin using the new method and comparing results to traditional culture-based methods. Michigan State University is providing specialized training for the new method and beach water testing, supported with $30,000 from the state.

The DEQ is providing the rapid testing equipment to the following 11 agencies:
• Central Michigan District Health Department
• Chippewa County Health Department in Cooperation with the Environmental Analysis Laboratory at Lake Superior State University
• District Health Department 10, in cooperation with Cadillac Wastewater Treatment Plant
• Genesee County Health Department
• Health Department of Northwest Michigan
• Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services
• Kent County Health Department
• Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Facility
• Public Health Muskegon County, in cooperation with the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University
• Oakland County Health Division
• Saginaw County Department of Public Health

Beach water samples also will be tested with the QPCR method at the following laboratories:
• Huron to Erie Alliance for Research and Training (HEART) Freshwater Center at Lake St. Clair Metropark
• Hope College
• Saginaw Valley State University

In addition to the $500,000 of equipment, several local health departments statewide received a total of $438,158 in grants to support E. coli monitoring for beaches on inland lakes and the Great Lakes, bringing the DEQ’s commitment to beach monitoring to nearly $1 million.

That $438,158 includes two types of grants: $238,158 in federal funds, and $200,000 from the Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund.

The following agencies were awarded the $238,158 in federal funds to monitor 231 Great Lakes beaches, including 146 that will be tested with the QPCR method:
• Allegan County Health Department, $5,000 to monitor six beaches
• Bay County Health Department, $6,614 to monitor five beaches
• Berrien County Health Department, $16,153 to monitor 14 beaches
• Central Michigan District Health Department, $11,073 to monitor 12 beaches
• Chippewa County Health Department, $8,704 to monitor six beaches
• Department of Natural Resources, $3,000 to monitor Belle Isle Beach
• City of Marquette Health Department, $7,152 to monitor four beaches
• Delta-Menominee District Health Department, $5,000 to monitor four beaches
• District Health Department #2, $8,942 to monitor 18 beaches
• District Health Department #4, $8,103 to monitor 12 beaches
• District Health Department #10, $21,988 to monitor 21 beaches
• Health Department of Northwest Michigan, $29,695 to monitor 31 beaches
• Huron County Health Department, $15,356 to monitor 13 beaches
• Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department, $7,690 to monitor five beaches
• Macomb County Health Department, $5,000 to monitor three beaches
• Monroe County Health Department, $5,000 to monitor four beaches
• Muskegon County Health Department, $15,097 to monitor 13 beaches
• Ottawa County Health Department, $7,328 to monitor nine beaches
• St. Clair County Health Department, $12,645 to monitor 15 beaches
• Sanilac County Health Department, $5,000 to monitor six beaches
• Van Buren/Cass District Health Department, $7,152 to monitor four beaches
• The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, $13,784 to monitor 13 beaches
• Wayne County Health Department, $3,038 to monitor one beach
• Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department, $9,997 to monitor 11 beaches

Finally, the following agencies were awarded the $200,000 from the Clean Michigan Initiative-Clean Water Fund to monitor 132 inland lake beaches with the QPCR method:
• Barry-Eaton District Health Department, $9,739, to monitor four beaches
• Central Michigan District Health Department, $23,200, to monitor 14 beaches
• Chippewa County Health Department, $6,700, to monitor three beaches
• District Health Department #2, $32,200, to monitor 20 beaches
• District Health Department #4, $6,700, to monitor three beaches
• Health Department of Northwest Michigan, $20,540, to monitor 16 beaches
• Luce-Mackinac-Alger-Schoolcraft District Health Department, $5,200, to monitor two beaches
• Macomb County Health Department, $5,200, to monitor two beaches
• Oakland County Health Department, $45,079, to monitor 45 beaches
• Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, $15,700, to monitor nine beaches
• Wayne County Health Department, $9,800, to monitor five beaches
• Western Upper Peninsula District Health Department, $8,753.15, to monitor six beaches
• Wexford County Drain Commission, $11,188, to monitor six beaches

 

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