How Will Bacteria Affect Michigan’s Lakes This Summer
Anyone who has ever seen one of Michigan's Great Lakes will tell you they are beautiful.
Between the beautiful sand, lakeside dunes, countless lighthouses, the passing clouds changing the color of the water right before your eyes, and sunshine forming thousands of sparkling reflective diamonds across the water's surface, it's one of those experiences that can't truly be put into words. It must be experienced in person.
Are All Fresh Water Lakes Safe to Swim In?
Even though the view from the water's surface can be beautifully hypnotic, this does not always mean the water is safe for swimming.
The Great Lakes region became a hub of industry thanks to the easy transport of goods and raw materials the lakes and rivers provided.
But, according to Alliance for the Great Lakes, by the 1960s these waters became full of toxic waste. Over time, this settled right into the sediment. The toxins came from the waste of steel mills, factories, paper mills, coal plants, and various other industries.
How Are the Waters Affected by These Hidden Dangers?
There are a few ways that contaminants can end up in areas in which they're unwanted, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
- Ground runoff from the rain can pick up E.coli and carry it to bodies of water.
- If a lot of birds are present in an area on the water, their excrement can contribute both bacteria and pathogens to the water.
- They did find a correlation between a high number of people at beaches and high bacteria counts in the water. Makes sense if you think about it.
Are There Any Michigan Waters Currently Unsafe to Swim?
EGLE Beach Guard currently has one 'Contamination Advisory' in effect and it's for Houghton Lake's Lakeview Waterfront Park in Roscommon County. This advisory was issued by the Central Michigan District Health Department on 5/25/2023.
To put this in perspective, though, a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center found that about 60 percent of more than 3,000 Great Lake beaches were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2020.
So, before you take the plunge into any body of water, do your research! Just because it looks safe, doesn't always mean it is.