Researchers in Traverse City will check a small stream for E. coli this summer.
Mitchell Creek tested positive for high levels of the bacteria in 2009, when scientists with Michigan State University monitored eight sites along the waterway.
“Those elevated E. coli levels mean that there’s more bacteria in Mitchell Creek that’s getting out into Grand Traverse Bay,” Christine Crissman says. She’s executive director of The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.
Now The Watershed Center plans to test the stream all summer long for the bacteria, which can make humans sick.
Crissman says it's unusual for rivers and streams to have elevated E. coli levels. But it’s possible septic tanks are to blame.
“There might be some issues where people need to update or completely redo some of the septage tanks that they have,” Crissman says.
The bacteria has led public officials to close beaches in Traverse City.