Going to the Beach?

July 8, 2015

Marquette MI Surf 04-12-2013

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan will become the first state to monitor beaches using a new, rapid testing method for water quality thanks to a federal grant.

The new testing method, known as quantitative polymerase chain reaction, can quickly identify E. coli DNA in a beach’s water sample. The process provides results the same day a sample is taken which allows for quicker beach closures and advisories where high levels of E.coli are detected.

“So once this is up and running, a Holland State Park or wherever, could possibly be sampled early in the morning…Bring that back to the lab and by noon have an assessment of the risk of that beach if there were any at that time,” said Hope College Associate Professor of Biochemistry Mike Pikaart.

Traditional culture-based methods required a day to allow E. coli to grow, which meant beaches testing positive could not be closed until the day after the sample was found to be contaminated.

Eleven county labs across the state will receive new testing equipment due to a $500,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Quality including the Kent County Health Department, Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services and Public Health Muskegon County in cooperation with the Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University.

Beach water samples also will be tested at Hope College.

Daily beach testing results will be posted on the DEQ’s BeachGuard website at www.deq.state.mi.us/beach/ or download the myBeachCast app for iPhone and Android at www.beachcast.glin.net.


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