The millions of people going to a Great Lakes beach might not see and probably don’t want to think about the E. coli bacteria present in the freshwater system’s near-shore waters. But the bacteria are there — and sometimes at counts that exceed a standard for swimmer safety set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Bacteria counts, in fact, are more likely to be higher on a beach in the Great Lakes than in any other coastal region of the country, according to “Testing the Waters
,” a June report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The study was based on a survey of nearly 3,500 beaches in 30 different states.
Thirteen percent of the water samples taken at Great Lakes beaches exceed the Beach Action Value, the EPA’s most protective benchmark for swimmer safety. That compares to the national average of 10 percent.