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Environmental Health Division

BATHING BEACH MONITORING

Current bacteriological results and information about statewide beach monitoring can be found at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality beach monitoring website. The Environmental Health Division monitors nine Kalamazoo County bathing beaches for E. coli bacteria. Samples are submitted to the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Laboratory for analysis

Bathing beaches are monitored:

  1. To assure a safe and healthy recreational experience at Kalamazoo County bathing beaches.
  2. To determine compliance to Michigan's Water Quality Standards for total body contact recreation.
  3. To protect public exposure to surface water that does not meet Michigan's Water Quality Standards.

The following bathing beaches are monitored once each week (typically between Memorial Day and Labor Day):

Blue Lake, Cold Brook County ParkCharleston Township
Eagle Lake, Fort Custer Recreation AreaCharleston Township
Swimmer's Lake, Markin Glen County ParkCooper Charter Township
Hogsett Lake, Prairie View County ParkSchoolcraft Township
Long Lake, Ramona ParkCity of Portage
Campbell Lake, Robert Morris Township ParkComstock Charter Township
Gull Lake, Ross Township ParkRoss Township
Sunset Lake, Sunset Lake ParkVillage of Vicksburg

Understanding Bathing Beach Results
The results of bathing beaches are indicative to that specific area, not the lake as a whole. Several factors can influence bacteria counts; land use and land development, weather conditions, wind direction, air and water temperatures, season, stormwater inputs (runoff), wildlife concentrations, and the number and frequency of bathers. The presence of E. coli bacteria suggests that other harmful, disease-causing pathogens may also be present.

E. coli standards for swimming are provided in the Michigan Public Health Code and Rule 323.1062(1) of the Part 4 Water Quality Standards (as promulgated pursuant to Part 31 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended). Water results are verified to determine compliance to the rule, which states the following:

  • 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.

  • At no time shall the water of the state protected for partial body contact recreation contain more than a maximum of 1000 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.

Public Health Advisories
A public health advisory is issued when the monitoring conducted by the Environmental Health Division determines that bacteria levels exceed the limits set by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. If either the single-day (one event) or thirty-day geometric mean (at least five events) bacteria count exceeds the established limit, a public health advisory for total body contact may be issued. After continued monitoring the Environmental Health Division will lift the public health advisory when E. coli bacteria levels meet the Michigan Water Quality Standards.

USEPA Standards
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) uses the following criteria for bathing (full body contact) recreational waters. The numbers presented here are for informational purposes only..

Single Sample Maximum Allowable Densities
Designated bathing beach 235 colonies per 100 ml water
Moderate use for bathing 298 colonies per 100 ml water
Light use for bathing 409 colonies per 100 ml water
Infrequent use for bathing 575 colonies per 100 ml water

Based on a statistically sufficient number of samples (generally not less than 5 samples equally spaced over a 30-day period), the geometric mean should not exceed 126 colonies per 100 ml water. This information is documented in the Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Bacteria-1986; reference number EPA440/5-84-002.

Bathing Beach Water Testing Service
The Environmental Health Division will provide bathing beach monitoring to interested parties (lake associations, camps, land owners). The service includes:

  • Conducting a sanitary survey, including watershed information, nearby land use, lake inputs and outputs
  • Conducting a field survey during each sampling event
  • Collecting & analyzing three surface water samples for E. coli bacteria
  • Posting results on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality beach monitoring website
  • Preparing a report to be faxed, mailed, or e-mailed
  • Presenting the information to the interested parties

The Environmental Health Division follows specific guidelines when conducting bathing beach sampling. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality provides a set of water quality standards to determine if water is acceptable for swimming. Refer to the Environmental Health Division fee schedule for current charges of surface water analysis and services. For additional information refer to the Kalamazoo County Bathing Beach Monitoring Program brochure.

Sampling by Riparian Land Owners
The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department Laboratory will perform bacteriological analysis of surface water samples. Sample bottles can be obtained from the laboratory or the Environmental Health Division office. There should be a minimum of three sampling locations representative of the defined swimming / bathing beach area. Samples should be collected in three to six feet of water, one foot below the surface. Follow water sample collection procedures on the back of the request form. Consult with the Environmental Health Division if you have any additional questions.

Healthful Links:

CDC Healthy Swimming - Giardia Fact sheet

CDC Healthy Swimming - Cryptosporidium Fact sheet

CDC Healthy Swimming - Swimmer's Itch Fact Sheet




The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department programs are open to all without regard to race, sex, color, national origin, religion, height, weight, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Links to external sites do not constitute endorsements by Kalamazoo County.

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