Washtenaw County beach to reopen after bacteria levels deemed safe for swimming

People swim at Independence Lake beach on July 14, 2019. (Meredith Bruckner)

WHITMORE LAKE, Mich. – Independence Lake beach at Independence Lake County Park will reopen on Saturday.

High levels of E. coli bacteria caused the Washtenaw County Health Department and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission to close the beach on Wednesday.

As of Friday afternoon, the Health Department reported that “test results are now below actionable levels.”

High levels of the bacteria were detected earlier this week after routine testing was conducted in swimming areas at the Webster Township lake.

“The Michigan Public Health Code allows for public beach closures if E. coli bacteria levels exceed set thresholds,” reads a Washtenaw County Health Department press release. “E. coli bacteria can cause gastrointestinal illness and are a particular concern for people with weakened immune systems.”

According to the Health Department, bird feces could be the cause of the elevated bacteria levels due to recent rainstorms and a high number of geese and ducks on beaches.

Fishing and other forms of recreation that do not involve direct contact with the water have been permitted during the closure.

Individuals who believe they may have fallen ill after swimming in the contaminated water or those who have questions or concerns about the water sampling at the public beach can contact the Washtenaw County Environmental Health Division at 734-222-3800 or visit www.washtenaw.org/envhealth.

Independence Lake is located at 3200 Jennings Road in Whitmore Lake.