Shelli DiFranco
The Watershed Center
231.935.1514 ext. 5




TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – June 7, 2018 – The Watershed Grand Traverse Bay will begin its annual beach testing on June 13. Twenty four area Great Lakes and inland lake beaches in Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Leelanau counties will be tested for harmful E.coli bacteria every Wednesday through September 5.

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 bacteria levels, local Health Departments will post advisories at impacted beaches and the beaches will immediately be re-tested until results return to acceptable levels.

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. The presence of E.coli in surface water indicates fecal contamination is present at the beach, which includes a host of other harmful viruses and bacteria. Beachgoers are encouraged to take simple actions to reduce the risk of E. coli at beaches, such as not feeding ducks and other birds, disposing of diapers (including swim diapers) in trash cans, and having young children take frequent bathroom breaks.

“We’re proud to offer this service within our watershed once again,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center. “Testing bacteria such as E.coli is an important part of keeping our residents, visitors, and beaches healthy. We love our beaches and clean water and want to keep it that way.”

The Watershed Center also reminds beachgoers to not swim near storm drains, especially during and immediately after rain events, as water from the storm drain may contain E. coli and other harmful pathogens from animal feces that are washed into the drains in a storm. The risk of elevated E. coli levels after a rain event decreases as sunlight breaks down the bacteria in open water.

Funding for beach monitoring comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency BEACH Act Funds, as well as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Clean Michigan Initiative, the City of Traverse City, and Acme Township. Testing will be conducted at the following beaches:

Grand Traverse County:

  • Bryant Park
  • Clinch Park
  • East Bay Park
  • Gilbert Beach
  • Interlochen State Park
  • Sayler Park
  • Senior Beach
  • Sunset Park
  • Taylor Beach
  • Traverse City State Park
  • Twin Lakes Park
  • Volleyball Beach
  • West End Beach

Benzie/Leelanau County:

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


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The Watershed Center is a non-profit organization that advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and acts to protect and preserve its 1,000-square mile watershed, which covers portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties. Learn more at

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