When it comes to a nice leisurely day at a Michigan beach, all you need is sunshine, a towel, and a beach to enjoy it on. But, when it comes to a day of swimming at the beach, you need one more thing: peace of mind that the water you are swimming in is safe to do so.

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What Exactly Is E. Coli?

According to USGS, water, like everything else on Earth, is full of bacteria. Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria is found in the digestive tracts of all animals, including humans. And when these bacteria get into the environment and come into contact with people, health problems and illnesses like urinary tract infections, respiratory illness and pneumonia can occur.

What Is Considered a Dangerous Level of E. Coli in Water? 

Although a bit confusing, the EPA's website states that E. coli criteria are expressed as the number of colony-forming units (CFU) per 100mL of water. And E. coli levels at designated swimming beaches should not exceed 88 CFU per 100 milliliter (mL) in any one sample or exceed a three-sample geometric mean average over a 60-day period of 47 CFU/100 mL.

The answer most people would relate better with, however, is that anything found in the digestive tracts of animals is not something you want to swim in or consume, right?

Have Michigan Beaches Had E. Coli Issues in 2023? 

As recently as June 14th, according to ABC12, the Huron County Health Department announced that three water samples were collected and tested by the Health Department in 3 to 6 feet of water at Bird Creek Village Park beach in Port Austin. Test results showed 727 E. coli colonies in 100 milliliters of water, which is way above the acceptable limit.

Are There Any Current Beach Closures in Mid-Michigan Due to E. Coli?

Because this particular question can change on a daily basis due to continued testing, checking the Michigan BeachGuard System before heading out to any beach is always your safest bet.

So, now that you know a bit more about E. coli and swimming water safety, check for any warnings in areas you may visit and, if all is clear, ENJOY!

SEE ALSO: How Will Bacteria Affect Michigan's Lakes This Summer

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