Conditions improve at Western UP beaches

12 beaches reopen, seven more are ‘swim at their own risk’

 

June 29, 2018



By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

HANCOCK — It’s been almost two weeks since heavy rains caused flooding across parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula; and beaches across the western U.P. are starting to reopen after they were closed due to high E.coli levels from the storms.

Twelve recreation locations are listed as open, according to a Western U.P. Health Department health advisory Thursday, including beaches in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.

The twelve locations are: Bete Grise, Calumet Waterworks, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River, Fort Wilkins State Park, Lake Gogebic State Park, Lake Medora, L’Anse Waterfront, Little Traverse Bay, Porcupine Mountains State Park, Second Sand Beach and Twin Lakes State Park.

The health department has moved another seven beaches into its advisory category, which means E.coli levels have improved but, “the public is advised to swim at their own risk and to avoid swallowing water while swimming,” the advisory said.


These beaches include Sunday Lake in Wakefield and Bergland Township Beach; along with Agate Beach, Chassell, Dollar Bay, Rice Lake and Schoolcraft Township Park on Big Traverse.

Eleven other beaches remain closed due to tests showing high levels of E.coli and/or fecal coliform bacteria, according to the health department.

Ray Sharp, the health department’s director of community health and education, said the determination between closed beaches and those with an advisory is based on state and federal guidelines for parts per million of E.coli and fecal coliform bacteria.

He said the department normally monitors 17 beaches with weekly tests, even though there are many more swimming locations in the five counties the department services.

Most of the locations are state, county or township parks, Sharp said, which means the department doesn’t usually monitor smaller inland lakes or forest service campgrounds.

The department increased its monitoring activities, according to Sharp, after the storms of June 15-17.

“We greatly stepped up monitoring following the June 17 heavy rains, and were finding high bacteria levels in most locations, including inland lakes and Lake Superior beaches that were proximate to river mouths; hence the language over the last week stating all beaches were closed pending test results indicating that specific locations were safe for swimming and other recreation,” Sharp wrote in an email to the Daily Globe.


Sharp said he expects the status of many lakes to change in the coming days and weeks. He urged the public to continue to check the department’s website, wupdhd.org, for updates. Those with questions concerning swim safety can contact the department at 906-482-7382.

 
 

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