FOX 17’s Lab Tests Show “Extremely High” E. Coli Levels In Waters Hit By Manure Spill

Posted at 6:37 PM, Feb 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-19 22:02:06-05

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (Feb. 19, 2014)– It’s a FOX 17 investigation following a manure spill that has contaminated the waters in Allegan County.

The results of our testing of the waters affected by the spill have returned.  We took collections to Prein & Newhof Laboratory in Grand Rapids for independent testing just after the spill and again Tuesday.

The first two samples taken from a creek in the Weick’s Drain area near 26th Street Friday near Hopkins during the spill were so brown, you couldn’t see through the collection bottles.

That location sits very close to the Schaendorf Dairy Farm and the spill site.

According to lab director Robert Erickson, the samples tested very high for E. Coli which can make people sick, causing nausea, vomiting or eye, nose or throat infections.

“In relating to safety for body contact, it’s extremely high,” said Erickson.

In sample number one, the lab found more than 170,000 E-Coli colonies per 100 milliliters of waters.

That’s around 550 times the recommended limit of 300 for body contact.

In the same area of Weick’s Drain, sample number two produced 130,000 E-Coli colonies, which would be more than 425 times the advised body contact limit.

Monday we dipped into the creek again off of 24th, this time about 1.5 miles from the spill site at the farm.

That was the location that crews from the farm were vacuuming manure water out of the creek, trying to clean it.

The water we poured into those collection bottles from that site was much clearer compared to the first samples that were taken during the spill.

However, those samples were still yellow in color.

The lab checked those and found that four days after the spill was discovered, the E-Coli numbers were still well above what would be considered OK for human contact.

Sample number three collected from that area showed 3,600 E-Coli colonies per 100 milliliters of water.

That’s still more than 10 times what should be the safe body contact limit.

Sample number four collected from that area showed 2,000 E-Coli colonies, that’s more than six times the allowed limit.

“Swimming beach sampling during the summer, when they do their averaging, the safe level is 300,” Erickson. “That’s not a safe for body contact at all.”

As cleanup continues by Schaendorf Farm workers in the Weick’s Drain area Monterey Townhsip Supervisor Nevin Cooper-Keel says that he is looking into the situation personally.

“It’s really alarming, because that’s one thing I’ve always loved about being there is how clean it is and you know I hope it can get back to clean and safe levels as soon as possible,” said Keel.

He hopes to investigate what can be done to prevent that type of safety concern down the road.

“I don`t know if I want to eat fish out of there now,” said Keel. “But, there’s also questions like ‘Is there anything we should be looking at for the future to prevent something like this from happening?'”