Recent research indicates that Michigan lakes run the risk of being unsafe for swimmers due to remnants of fecal matter from humans and animals — in other words, there’s a chance that there could be poop in the water.
A report released by the Environment America Research and Policy Center found that fecal matter can cause the amount of bacteria in the lakes to spike dramatically on certain days. The water can become contaminated when there is an overflow in the sewers or when fecal waste washes into the waterways that lead to the ocean. Swimming in contaminated waters could potentially cause a number of waterborne illnesses such as skin rashes, eye and ear infections, respiratory disease, and even stomach or intestinal issues.
The study sampled 207 Michigan beach sites in 2018, out of which 120 were found to be potentially unsafe for swimming for at least one day out of the year. In fact, the average beach in Wayne County was found to be potentially contaminated for 75 percent of the days samples were taken, the highest percentage out of any county in the state.
Back in 1972, the U.S. passed the Clean Water Act, a federal law meant to eliminate the discharge of sewage in the waterways in order to make the water safer for swimming and fishing. However, more recently, the main concerns of the Act have redirected more toward chemical pollutants and erosion caused by construction.