(IRON MOUNTAIN, MI.)–With heavy rains hitting much of the area, Health Department officials are reminding people to exercise caution when swimming after a rain event.
Heavy rainfall may result in erosion and runoff into drainage ways and rivers that discharge into recreational bodies of water. Large rain events elevate the bacteria level in lakes from sources of contamination such as manure from farm fields, waste from pets and wildlife, flooded septic systems, and/or sewer overflows.
The presence of E.coli and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria in aquatic environments indicate that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of man or animals. The presence of high levels of fecal contamination is an indicator that a potential health risk exists for individuals exposed to this water.
Swimming in waters with high levels of fecal bacteria increases the chance of developing illness (fever, nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, skin rashes, ear infections) from pathogens (bacteria, viruses, parasites) entering the body through the mouth, nose, ears, or cuts in the skin. Avoid ingesting of water. Washing thoroughly with soap after contact with
contaminated water can also help prevent illness.
The Health Department’s beach monitoring program has concluded for the season, therefore the water quality at area beaches will not be tested prior to the Labor Day Weekend.
Weather conditions following a rain event help determine how quickly water returns to ‘normal’. When condition are right (warm weather, warm surface water, continued rain events that cause runoff), bacteria survive and continue to multiply quickly. During conditions of cooler water temperature, cooler weather, and exposure to sunlight, the bacteria die in large numbers, allowing the water quality to return to normal more quickly.