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E-M:/ CORRECTION RE: / E.coli Closes Muskegon area beach

Thanks to diligent readers for correcting some of my information.


First, Pere Marquette park and beach are where Muskegon Lake lets into Lake Michigan, not the mouth of the Muskegon River.  The River flows into Muskegon Lake


Also, I said Black River -- should have said Black Creek, which flows into Mona Lake.  Then farther north in Muskegon County is White River and White Lake.


And, just to be clear, I didn’t want to say that CAFO wastes were responsible for this E.coli incident -- what I wanted to say is that they can’t be eliminated, especially since so much CAFO waste is generated in these two counties.


Anne Woiwode, State Director

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

(517) 484-2372


From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Anne Woiwode
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2007 2:31 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ E.coli Closes Muskegon area beach


The very day the Senate voted out bills to dramatically weaken regulation of CAFOs, the Muskegon Chronicle reported the first beach closing of the year.  Pere Marquette park is at the mouth of the Muskegon River.  Note that health officials don’t know what caused the high levels of E.coli.


Muskegon’s Senator Gerald Van Woerkom led the fight to deregulate CAFOs in the Senate, arguing that dramatically scaling back the authority of the DEQ to regulate or take enforcement action against these facilities and putting them under voluntary MAEAP programs at MDA was somehow protective of the environment. 


According to the most recent info we have from state agencies, there are 1 each permitted CAFOs in Muskegon and Newaygo Counties, one pending CAFO permit in Muskegon, and 6 MAEAP verified CAFOs in the two counties (including one that is also a permitted facility).  The info doesn’t identify watersheds so there may be additional facilities in this watershed, and some of these may be in the Grand River or Black River watershed instead.  While most of the MAEAP facilities in these two counties don’t identify the number of animals, a minimum sized CAFO contains enough animals to equate to the urine and feces of 16,000.  With that, adding up the equivalents for the CAFOs in Muskegon and Newaygo that DO identify numbers of animals or animal units with minimum estimates for those that don’t, the amount of untreated CAFO waste being applied in the Muskegon River watershed from just these two counties from known CAFOs is equivalent to the waste from more than 300,000 people. 


Just for comparison, the 2006 US Census estimate for Muskegon County population is175,231 while the Newaygo County population estimate is 49,840, or a total smaller in production of wastes than the number of livestock just in CAFOs (225,071).


One health department official speculated a passing boat might have been responsible for the E.coli, apparently there has not been rain recently to wash wastes into the waterways.  However, as has been increasingly documented the beaches and soils can actually keep the E.coli viable for many months, so it is possible the growing about of wastes from CAFOs and perhaps other sources have infested the beach or underwater soils up stream so no new flush of rain is needed to elevate levels.  In addition, a recent study still under peer review that was presented in testimony before the State Senate Ag Committee found that CAFOs were discharging into waterways even when there was no rainfall.


So the summer is kicked off with closed beaches and efforts to virtually eliminate the water pollution agency of the state from authority to do anything about it for the vast majority of these facilities.  For all the weaknesses of the DEQ on this issue to date, the effort by Senator Van Woerkom, Senator Birkholz, Senator Gilbert, Senator Barcia, Senator Brown, Senator Cropsey and others to weaken the existing system is bound to make the situation even worse.


Be sure to send postcards to your Senator from the beach this summer --



E. coli closes Pere Marquette beach for a day

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

By Lynn Mooreand Eric Gaertner


First it was algae, then it was E. coli.

Considered by some to be Michigan's cleanest beach, Pere Marquette Park has had a rough start to the summer season. Health officials on Tuesday issued a warning that E. coli levels in the water at the beach exceeded safe standards.

The advisory, which was lifted late this morning, came on the heels of an algae bloom at the beach that kept swimmers out of the water last weekend.




Health officials don't know what caused the elevated E. coli.






Anne M. Woiwode, State Director, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter  - 109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906

517-484-2372    fax 517-484-3108 -- anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org 

Sierra Club Michigan Chapter celebrating our 40th Anniversary on September 9, 2007

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