On Thursday, May 30, 202, roughly 54,000 gallons of untreated sewage were spilled into Boardman River, Michigan, following a heavy rain which prompted various flash flood advisories in the area. The Grand Traverse Health Department immediately issued a no body contact advisory to protect the public from the possibly E. coli contaminated waters. The no body contact advisory was placed on the various bodies of water which are connected in some way to Boardman River.
E. coli is a type of bacteria which is most commonly spread through the fecal-oral route. E. coli is a diverse and expansive type of bacteria which can be found on many of our surfaces, foods, and even in our intestines. While most strains of E. coli are not harmful, some strains can cause moderate to severe gastrointestinal illness, presenting itself through symptoms like nausea, stomach cramps, fever, and vomiting. The harmful strains of E. coli present the most threat to those with weakened immune systems such as the elderly, the ill, or expecting mothers.
The Grand Traverse Health Department announced today, June 1, 2020, that many of the samples collected for E. coli testing on May 30, returned with adequately low levels of E. coli for full body contact. Consequently, the Grand Traverse Health Department has lifted the no body contact advisory from Clinch Park, Bryant Park, and Senior Center Beaches, and announced that full body contact is safe for these beaches. The no body contact advisory for Sunset Park Beach and the lower Boardman River has also been lifted, however, officials say only for “partial body-contact” , such as wading, fishing, and paddling.
The Grand Traverse Health Department says that additional samples will be collected from these bodies of water for further analysis of the E. coli levels on Monday, in order to maintain assurance of their safety.