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Understanding sources and distribution of Escherichia coli at Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach, Macomb County, Michigan

January 18, 2022

Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach (LSCMB) in Michigan is a public beach near the mouth of the Clinton River that has a history of beach closures for public health concerns. The Clinton River is designated as a Great Lakes Area of Concern, and the park has a Beneficial Use Impairment for beach closings because of elevated Escherichia coli (E. coli) concentrations. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and in collaboration with the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Macomb County Health Department, and Huron-Clinton Metroparks, completed a 2-year study to determine sources of E. coli in LSCMB. Samples were collected during dry and wet weather periods to observe the sampling sites under different conditions. Nearshore surface water samples were collected biweekly July through October in 2018 and May through September in 2019. There were 20 sampling sites along the shoreline of the park and in the channel north of the park. In addition to collecting nearshore surface-water samples, samples were collected from shallow groundwater, lake-bottom material, standing water on the beach and surrounding the recreational beach area, solids (beach sands and detritus), and offshore surface-water sites. In 2019, additional samples for microbial source tracking (MST) were collected on three dates in midsummer and were analyzed for human (HF183) and bird/waterfowl (GFD) MST markers. The concentrations of E. coli at LSCMB (in order of highest to lowest E. coli concentrations) were as follows: shallow groundwater nearest to the water’s edge, surface sands and organic matter (detritus), standing water on the beach, nearshore surface water in and surrounding the recreational beach area, lake-bottom material, and offshore surface water. The combination of low E. coli concentrations offshore and higher concentrations nearshore indicate nearshore sources, possibly from beach sands or groundwater, rather than sources coming from offshore Lake St. Clair waters. The subset of samples for MST analysis did not have enough positive results to illustrate MST trends, but this study demonstrated that both human and waterfowl sources can affect the water quality at LCSMB.

Publication Year 2022
Title Understanding sources and distribution of Escherichia coli at Lake St. Clair Metropark Beach, Macomb County, Michigan
DOI 10.3133/sir20215089
Authors Lisa R. Fogarty, Jessica A. Maurer, Ian M. Hyslop, Alexander R. Totten, Christopher M. Kephart, Angela K. Brennan
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2021-5089
Index ID sir20215089
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Michigan Water Science Center; Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Water Science Center; Upper Midwest Water Science Center