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Tests show E. coli in the sludge on Lake St. Clair

Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 18:13:30-05

HARRISON TWP., Mich. (WXYZ) — Some test results are in and show E. coli is part of the sludge that has washed up onto the shore of Harrison Township along Lake St. Clair.

“Based on laboratory and visual analysis, the substance is decaying filamentous algae with E. coli counts that present no imminent public health hazard and are not indicative of raw sewage,” Macomb County said in a news release.

RELATED: Taking action for you by testing the sludge on Lake St. Clair

However, county officials do not say what the concentration of E coli is that is measured in colonies in the lab.

We’re taking action for you and are doing our own testing. 7 Action News took samples of sludge to the state-certified Microbiological Associates in Farmington Hills. Our testing needs another 24 hours to complete.

“We ran the test right away yesterday with 100 ml of water; we did membrane filtration," said Shuba Iyer, director of the laboratory. "We did see some colonies, and we would like to think they are presumptive E. coli but we’re running confirmations.”

For reference, E. coli is what is measured to determine if beaches are closed in the summer.

RELATED: Residents fear mysterious sludge washing up from Lake St. Clair may be raw sewage

“It really depends on how many colonies of E. coli is left after they treated it,” said Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller.

Several communities in Oakland and Macomb discharged a billion gallons treated sewage into the lake two weekends ago after heavy rain.

“Unfortunately I’m not surprised they are finding some traces of E. coli,” Miller said.

In Warren, the number was 37 million gallons. Warren Mayor Jim Fouts says they have no choice to discharge or have flooded basements.

“The bottom line is I can not let anything go into basements of Warren residents,” Fouts said.

The big question now is who pays for the cleanup?

“It’s horrendous," Fouts added. "That’s a good question. I think obviously you can’t hold those citizens accountable for what was no fault of their own.”

Commissioner Miller added, “Well, I’m not aware of any fund at the federal level or the state level to come help them clean it up. So I believe it will be left up to the homeowners.”

HERE’S THE ENTIRE MACOMB COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASE:

On January 21, 2020, the Macomb County Health Department responded to residents’ concerns of
unknown matter that washed up on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair. The Health Department collected
samples and is providing the following update:
Based on laboratory and visual analysis, the substance is decaying filamentous algae with E. coli counts
that present no imminent public health hazard and are not indicative of raw sewage.
About the Macomb County Health Department
In partnership with the communities we serve, the mission of the Macomb County Health Department is
to protect the health and well-being of all who live, work, and play in Macomb County. We pursue our
mission by providing a wide range of programs and services that are delivered by Environmental Health
Services, Family Health Services, Community Health Planning and Promotion, and our Disease
Prevention and Control program. For more information, visit: https://health.macombgov.org/Health- [health.macombgov.org]