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E. coli concerns close St. Clair Shores beach
By Tony Scotta, Macomb Daily Staff Writer June 04, 2003

Swimming enthusiasts looking to brave mild June waters at Veterans Memorial Park beach today will have to head elsewhere. Macomb County Health Department officials shut down the St. Clair Shores beach after tests taken Monday revealed E. coli bacteria levels about seven times what's safe for humans.
E. coli test results returned to city officials Monday showed a bacteria count of 2,022.59 E. coli per milliliter of water. A level of 300 E. Coli per milliliter or lower per day is considered safe.

The closure will not affect the park's opening or the popular Splash Zone that runs on chlorinated water, officials said.

"We will take another test (this) morning, and if it meets the proper levels, we will give the clear to reopen," said Elwin Coll, divisional director of Environmental Health Services for the Macomb County Health Department.

"The test takes 18 hours to get results, so we should know by midday Thursday."

The high E. coli levels are being blamed largely on heavy rains over the past few days, Coll said. But officials will also inspect the area for other, undiscovered factors such as an unnatural contamination.

The E. coli levels mark the second time the beach has been closed this year, although Greg Esler, the city's parks and recreation director, argues no one has been affected yet.

The other closure was May 21, when tests showed levels of 1,355.63 E. Coli per milliliter, Esler said. By the next day, levels had returned to 55.84, he said.

"Obviously, it's disappointing any time the E. coli counts are up," Esler said. "But no one's been affected. It's been too cold for anyone to go swimming."

Veterans Memorial Park, located at Masonic and Jefferson, has long been a popular summer destination for swimmers.

But in recent years, the beach has been plagued off-and-on with E. coli -- particularly in the mid-1990s.

In 1996, the park was closed 84 days because of high bacteria levels, 39 times in 1997, 16 times in 1998 and four times in 1999.

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And they're saying they're gonna retest it because the rain may have added to the high level of contamination. It's almost 7x past the limit.

Reading all the past closures (and experiencing them as well) makes me sad - such a beautiful lake and we've definitely done some damage to it.......

The good news is that the Splash Zone will be open. I was under the misconception that if the millage didn't pass they were going to shut that down due to lack of funds to run it - guess not. Cool!
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