UPDATE: The City of Portland will conduct tests independent of EGLE to see if the advisory can be lifted before the weekend.
Portland City Manager Tutt Gorman released a statement citing the upcoming weekend and nice weather forecasted. The statement goes on to say if possible they want residents planning to use the Grand River for recreational activity this weekend to be able to proceed with peace of mind.
The retest today should generate results by tomorrow afternoon. Depending on the results the City of Portland may be able to lift the advisory, but if the results are unchanged the no contact advisory will simply remain in place.
“Rather than wait for EGLE to conduct the follow-up test, we felt taking the proactive approach would better serve our residents and community,” Gorman added.
ORIGINAL STORY: Officials issue a public health advisory for residents to avoid body contact with Grand River.
The advisory follows an 8-week study of E. coli on the Grand River which revealed high levels of the bacteria.
Earlier this week the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE, sampled the Grand River for E. coli in Ionia County.
Sampling was performed in Portland at Kent St. and in Saranac at Bridge St and high levels of E. coli were found at both locations.
At this time the Ionia County Health Department is recommending no body contact for the Grand River in Ionia County.
The 1257 per 100 ml at the Saranac location and 1181 per 100 ml at the Portland location is well above the water quality standard during this time of year which is between 130-300 per 100 ml.
The water quality standard is more conservative during the summer to protect swimmers during total body contact, but water is protected all year round by the partial body contact standard.
Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is a type of bacteria that is used by the State of Michigan as a water quality indicator. When E. coli is found in surface waters, it means that there has been fecal contamination.
E. coli can infect humans through ingestion or skin contact and cause diarrhea, giardia, hepatitis, or cholera.
While E. coli itself is harmful to human health as a water quality indicator it means other disease causing organisms might also be present.
Additional testing will be conducted by EGLE and The Ionia County Health Department will determine when conditions are safe enough to lift this Public Health Advisory.