E.coli levels dangerously high in Mid-Michigan river - WNEM TV 5

E.coli levels dangerously high in Mid-Michigan river

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ALMA, MI (WNEM) -

More problems are coming to light for a river with a history of problems.

The Pine River in Gratiot County was contaminated for decades because of a chemical plant that’s now gone.

However, once again, residents are being told the water is too dangerous for fishing and swimming.

The E.coli levels tested more than 10 times higher than the EPA’s safety threshold on Wednesday.

Wednesday night Donna Cater watched people fish the river in Alma. She said the bench is the closest she would get to the water.

“I don’t want any part of it, even touching the water, you know. Because of what’s in there, it’s nasty,” Cater said.

The Mid Michigan District Health Department and a biologist at Alma College issued a warning on Wednesday telling residents not to touch the water.

“The fact is, this river today is at a place where you should not even be picking a fish out of it,” said Dr. Tim Keeton, biology professor at Alma College.

Keeton said the E.coli levels are dangerously high and any exposure could be a health risk.

The vegetation and algae build up are clues to a serious problem that is only going to get worse, he said.

“We’ve got science that’s telling us this is trouble and we really should be doing something about it now,” Keeton said.

He said the most likely source of the problem is from manure and fertilizer that runs off fields. However, he also believes human feces drain into the river from older, rural homes with no septic systems.

Gary Rayburn lives on the river. He recently started up the Healthy Pine River Group.

He said the potentially harmful river needs to be cleaned up.

“Decided enough was enough because every year the river was becoming worse and worse,” Rayburn said.

The Pine River flows into the Tittabawassee River, through the Saginaw River, and ultimately into the Saginaw Bay.

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