Rain Can Affect Water Quality at Beaches

August 3, 2018–Significant rain events result in erosion and runoff into drainage ways and rivers that discharge into recreational bodies of water. Large rain events elevate the bacteria level in lakes from sources of contamination such as manure from farm fields, waste from pets and wildlife, flooded septic systems, and/or sewer overflows.

The presence of E.coli and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in aquatic environments indicate that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of man or animals. The presence of high levels of fecal contamination is an indicator that a potential health risk exists for individuals exposed to this water.

Swimming in waters with high levels of fecal bacteria increases the chance of developing illness (fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, ear infections) from pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites) entering the body through the mouth, nose, ears, or cuts in the skin.

The public should always exercise extreme caution when swimming after a rain event. Avoid ingesting of water. Washing thoroughly with soap after contact with contaminated water can also help prevent illness.

When beaches are closed, the length of time to reopen is dependent upon the natural conditions. When condition are right (warm weather, warm surface water, continued rain events that cause runoff), bacteria survive and continue to multiply quickly. During conditions of cooler water temperature, cooler weather, and exposure to sunlight, the bacteria die in large numbers, allowing the beach to reopen.

The Western UP Health Department tests water quality, weekly, at a number of bathing beaches across the Western UP. For the most recent results of each tested location, please click August 3rd Beach status.

Note: Lake Linden is under a continued precautionary advisory to chemical contaminants in the soil and sediment from mining waste. Click for Additional information regarding the Torch Lake Superfund Site and Surrounding Areas