Healthy Beaches

Keeping Your Family Safe

Beach Monitoring

During the summer months, The Watershed Center conducts E. coli testing at Grand Traverse area beaches. Testing will run June 14-September 6, 2017.

Beach test results will be available by noon on Thursdays and posted shortly thereafter on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s BeachGuard website as well as The Watershed Center’s Facebook page, and the Grand Traverse County Health Department website. If test results show high bacterial levels, beaches will be posted as necessary by local Health Departments and immediately re-tested.

Elevated bacteria levels, including E. coli, at beaches pose a threat to public health and cause illness, especially in young children and people with comprised immune systems.

Great Lakes beaches to be tested in 2017 include: 

Grand Traverse County:

  • West End Beach
  • Clinch Park
  • Bryant Park
  • East Bay Park
  • Traverse City State Park
  • Acme Bayside Park
  • Senior Beach
  • Sunset Park
  • Volleyball Beach
  • Sayler Park
  • Dock Road

Benzie/Leelanau County:

  • Empire Beach
  • Frankfort Beach
  • Northport Beach
  • Suttons Bay South Shore Park
  • Suttons Bay Marina Park Beach
  • Greilickville Harbor Park (Elmwood Park)
  • Beulah Beach
  • Bellows Beach

Inland beaches to be tested include:

  • Twin Lakes Park (N. Twin Lake)
  • Gilbert Beach (Long Lake)
  • Taylor Beach (Long Lake)
  • Interlochen State Park Beach (Duck Lake)
  • Beulah Beach (Crystal Lake)
  • Bellows Beach (Crystal Lake)
  • Almira Twp Park (Lake Ann)
  • South Bar  (South Bar Lake)
  • Neddows Beach (Lake Leelanau)

Advisory System

Results for Traverse City beaches are posted on signs at beaches by the Grand Traverse County Health Department.  Results are also available at the Health Department’s website.  Here’s how the advisory system works:

  • Level 1: No tag — E. Coli levels meet MDEQ swimming standards for full body contact
  • Level 2: Yellow tag — E. Coli levels meet MDEQ standards for wading, fishing and boating. Contact above the waist is not advised
  • Level 3: Reg tag — E. Coli levels exceed MDEQ standards; no body contact is advised
  • Level 4: Reg tag Health Alert — Excessive E. Coli levels and/or known gross contamination; avoid any kind of contact with beach waters

When any Level 2 or higher index is issued, the affected surface waters will be sampled and monitored until contamination levels return to acceptable levels.

Ordinances and Public Education

We work closely with the City of Traverse City, Elmwood Township and East Bay Township to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit feeding waterfowl and require pet owners to pick up their pet’s waste in public areas adjacent to waterways. The City of Traverse City adopted an ordinance in spring 2008 that prohibits feeding waterfowl.

Such ordinances will help minimize the flow of E. Coli into Grand Traverse Bay. A study conducted by the Watershed Center and the U.S. Geological Survey in 2001 found that bird droppings and stormwater runoff are likely sources of E. Coli in Grand Traverse Bay. We also work with local governments to install signs and pet waste bag dispensers along public parks, beaches and trails, complete with information cards.

The Watershed Center also airs public service announcements on local radio stations. When people understand that their positive actions can have positive effects, it benefits water quality and public health.

In addition, we examine marina and street cleaning practices to determine if better management practices and technologies are available to decrease the amount of contaminants entering the runoff drains and subsequently Grand Traverse Bay.

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