Friday, September 12, 2008

Beach Sand Often More Contaminated Than Water

Sep 12: According to a release from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recent research has revealed that beach sand contains high concentrations of E. coli and other fecal indicator bacteria, often greatly exceeding the concentration in beach water. Further, there is evidence that beach closings due to elevated fecal indicator bacteria may be linked to these sand populations. Contaminated beach sand, and the complications that it causes for monitoring, are among the leading topics that a group of national experts will discuss in Porter, Indiana at the Great Lakes Beach Association conference on September 16-17.

Richard Whitman, Chief of the Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station, USGS said, "Over the last few years, we've identified an important source of indicator bacteria and how these bacteria may negatively influence recreation, but this is the first time experts have actually met to discuss this issue collectively. Whitman was one of the first to describe these high concentrations of E. coli in sands and to link them to high bacteria counts in water.

Beach water is routinely analyzed for E. coli and other fecal indicator bacteria to determine whether human sewage is present. When bacteria concentrations in water exceed a certain threshold, beaches are typically closed to swimming or swimming advisories are posted. A potential reason for many of these beach closings, and a complication for monitoring efforts is high concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria in beach sand. Bacteria are often present in high concentrations independent of any recent contamination events. Further, bacteria are often re-suspended into the beach water during onshore winds and high waves. The health risk associated with these bacteria is as yet unknown, but preliminary studies are being conducted.

Access a release from USGS (
click here).

Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Public Call

Sep 12: The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration (GLRC) Executive Subcommittee invites the public to participate in a discussion on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM CDT regarding ongoing and planned activities of the GLRC and to share news about actions to implement the GLRC Strategy to Restore and Protect the Great Lakes. Topics for discussion include: Update on GLRC Initiatives; Future actions on GLRC Initiatives; and Updates by Stakeholders. Persons wishing to participate should RSVP as indicated in the details on the public call (See link below). Updates of the updates on the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Initiatives including: Toxics, Wetlands, Beaches, and Aquatic Invasives are also available on the website.

Access details on the Public Call (
click here). Access the GLRC website for links to updates on initiatives and additional information (click here).