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beach closures linked to broken sewer line

Monday, July 01, 2019 14:42 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News


Broken sewer lines are the suspected cause of recent beach closures along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Berrien County.

Swimming was allowed to resume June 26 at Cherry Beach, Weko Beach and Warren Dunes after the most recent testing found levels of e-coli bacteria associated with animal waste returned to acceptable levels, said Gillian Conrad, a Berrien County Health Department spokeswoman.

E-coli bacteria levels had been elevated along that stretch of shoreline for two consecutive weeks.

The ruptured underground sewer lines have since been repaired, said Chikaming Township supervisor Dave Bunte.

The breaks were in the area of Red Arrow Highway and Brown Road, he said.

Bunte said Cherry Beach reopened three days after the repairs but high e-coli bacteria levels a week later caused the beach to be closed for a second time.

That closure was lifted about 24 hours later when follow up testing showed the high bacteria levels had dissipated.

''We are very thankful and hopeful it will continue to be that way,'' Bunte said.

Conrad said it's believed the ruptured lines allowed enough contaminated storm water into the lake to elevate the bacteria levels at Cherry Beach and the other swimming areas to the north.

''While we can't finger point exactly why we had a higher reading last week. Generally, the thought was it may have been related to just the residual effects of that sewer break,'' she said.

Conrad said it was just the first time Cherry Beach had been closed due to high bacterial levels since 2014.

The health department tests the water at the beaches weekly during the summer as a safety precaution.

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