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Beach Conditions

BeachGuard systems monitor the presence of E. coli (Escherichia coli) in the water.  E. coli is typically found in the excrement of warm-blooded animals (birds and mammals.)  E. coli is not necessarily dangerous, but their presence does indicate the likelihood of other microorganisms being in the water, which might be harmful.

CFU per 100 ml stands for Colony Forming Units per 100 milliliters.  A milliliter is equal to one thousandth of a liter (0.002 pint.)  Colony Forming Units denote active bacteria as opposed to inactive or dead bacteria.  A single bacterium can divide and form a 'colony' of many bacteria.

 

Michigan BeachGuard (Maximum: geometric mean of 300 cfu per 100 ml)

Indiana BeachGuard (Maximum: single sample of 235 cfu per 100 ml)

Illinois BeachGuard (Maximum: geometric mean of 200 cfu per 100 ml)

Stormwater Quality

The Galien River Watershed Management Plan assigns the highest priority to the finding, control, and/or elimination of sources of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria.  The Plan establishes a Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) for E. coli bacteria of 130 CFU/100mL, which reflects the upper limit concentration deemed suitable or recreational total body contact.  The City of New Buffalo is the largest urban area within the watershed, and received a grant to perform an investigation of its storm water drainage system.  The primary focus of the investigation was the characterization of flows and the finding of sources for E. coli bacteria in storm water runoff.  Several potential sources of water pollution were identified and efforts were initiated by the City to mitigate and/or control these sources.  (See the rest of the IDEP Fact Sheet.)

 


 

Links to BeachGuard pages for specific area beaches:

 
Mount Baldy Beach Area: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Washington Park Beach (Michigan City)
Sheridan Beach Stop 2 (Michigan City)
Sheridan Beach Stop 7 (Michigan City)
Long Beach Stop 20
Long Beach Stop 24
Michiana Shores Stop 37

 

Michiana Village Beach
Grand Beach Public Beach
New Buffalo City Beach
Cherry Beach (Harbert)
Warren Dunes Beach
Weko Beach (Bridgman)
Lincoln Township Beach
Lions Park Beach (St. Joseph)
Silver Beach (St. Joseph)
Tiscornia Park Beach (St. Joseph)


Covert Township Park Beach
Van Buren State Park Beach
South Haven South Beach
South Haven North Beach
West Side County Park Beach (Ganges)
Pier Cove Beach (Ganges)
Douglas Beach
Oval Beach (Saugatuck)

 



From the Michigan BeachGuard site:


The Michigan Department of Community Health and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality used guidance provided by the EPA to develop ambient standards for E. coli.  E. coli standards for water used for total body contact recreation are provided in the Michigan Public Health Code and Rule 323.1062(1) of the Part 4. Water Quality Standards (Promulgated pursuant to Part 31 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1997 PA 451, as amended). R 323.1062(1) states, 'All waters of the state protected for total body contact recreation shall not contain more than 130 Escherichia coli (E. coli per 100 milliliters (ml), as a 30-day geometric mean. Compliance shall be based on the geometric mean of all individual samples taken during five or more sampling events representatively spread over a 30-day period. Each sampling event shall consist of three or more samples taken at representative locations within a defined sampling area. At no time shall the water of the state protected for total body contact recreation contain more than a maximum of 300 E. coli per 100 ml. Compliance shall be based on the geometric mean of three or more samples taken during the same sampling event at representative locations within a defined sampling area.'

 


 

State of Michigan Rule 323.1062 Microorganisms.

 

Rule 62. (1) All surface waters of the state protected for total body contact recreation shall not contain more than 130 Escherichia coli (E. coli) per 100 milliliters, as a 30-day geometric mean. Compliance shall be based on the geometric mean of all individual samples taken during 5 or more sampling events representatively spread over a 30-day period. Each sampling event shall consist of 3 or more samples taken at representative locations within a defined sampling area. At no time shall the surface waters of the state protected for total body contact recreation contain more than a maximum of 300 E. coli per 100 milliliters. Compliance shall be based on the geometric mean of 3 or more samples taken during the same sampling event at representative locations within a defined sampling area.


(2) All surface waters of the state protected for partial body contact recreation shall not contain more than a maximum of 1,000 E. coli per 100 milliliters. Compliance shall be based on the geometric mean of 3 or more samples, taken during the same sampling event, at representative locations within a defined sampling area.

 


 

From the Indiana BeachGuard site:

 

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) used guidance provided by the EPA to develop ambient standards for E. coli. E. coli standards for water used for total body recreational contact are provided in the Indiana Water Quality Standards [327 IAC 2-1.5-8(e)(3)] which states 'For full body contact recreational uses, E. coli bacteria shall not exceed...two hundred thirty-five (235) per one hundred (100) milliliters (mL) in any one (1) sample in a thirty (30) day period.'

Compliance shall be based solely on individual sample results. IDEM requires that either an Advisory or Closure be issued at a beach whenever a single sample result exceeds the 235 colony forming units (cfu) per 100 mL maximum standard.

 


 

From the Illinois BeachGuard site:

 

[The coastal] waters of the Lake Michigan Basin must not exceed a geometric mean of 200 per 100 ml, nor shall more than 10% of the samples during any 30 day period exceed 400 per 100 ml.

 



EPA Ambient Water Quality Criteria

In 1986, EPA published Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria--1986. This document contains EPA's current recommended water quality criteria for bacteria to protect people from gastrointestinal illness in recreational waters, i.e., waters designated for primary contact recreation or similar full body contact uses. States and Territories typically define primary contact recreation to encompass recreational activities that could be expected to result in the ingestion of, or immersion in, water, such as swimming, water skiing, surfing, kayaking, or any other recreational activity where ingestion of, or immersion in, the water is likely. The main route of exposure to illness-causing organisms during recreation in water is through accidental ingestion of fecally contaminated water while engaging in these activities.

EPA based its 1986 water quality criteria for bacteria on levels of indicator bacteria, namely Escherichia coli (E. coli) and enterococci, which demonstrate the presence of pathogens in fecal pollution that can cause acute gastrointestinal illness. Public health agencies have long used indicator organisms such as these to protect people from illnesses that they may contract from engaging in recreational activities in surface waters contaminated by fecal pollution. These organisms generally do not cause illness directly, but have demonstrated characteristics that make them good indicators of fecal contamination and thus the potential presence of pathogens capable of causing human illnesses such as gastroenteritis. Gastroenteritis describes a variety of diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract and are rarely life-threatening. Symptoms of the illness include nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache, and fever. Prior to its publication of the 1986 bacteria criteria document, EPA recommended the use of fecal coliforms as an indicator organism to protect people from gastrointestinal illness in recreational waters.... [The] recommended numeric criteria for fecal coliform [are] a geometric mean of 200/100 ml, with no more than 10% of the total samples taken during any 30-day period exceeding 400/100 ml.