CANR RESPONSE TO NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

MLive readers remember when Saginaw Bay was clean, free of muck

Of 28 beaches that stretch from Tawas to the tip of the Thumb, 23 have had regular beach closures because of E. coli, said Laura Ogar, Bay County Environmental Affairs director.

BY: Lindsay Knake, Mlive.com/Saginaw

KOCHVILLE TWP. — Muck has long been a problem at beaches in the Saginaw Bay.

Of 28 beaches that stretch from Tawas to the tip of the Thumb, 23 have had regular beach closures because of E. coli, said Laura Ogar, Bay County Environmental Affairs director.

Experts spoke about muck, pollutants, invasive species, climate change and water quality issues on Friday at the 2012 Saginaw Bay Watershed Conference.

The muck, composed of different types of algae, macrophytes and decomposing unidentifiable organic matter, harbors bacteria growth.

In the Saginaw Bay, both human and bovine fecal matter are in the much, said Marc Werhougstraete, a Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife research assistant at the conference.

Commenters weighed in with their own experience of the beach in the Bay City State Recreation Area.

jiminvegas recalls going to a clean beach at the recreation area:

I used to live out to Wenona Beach at the the end of Patterson Rd. back in the early to mid 60's and then on State Park Dr. in the late 60's and you can believe me when I say that the beaches were sandy and clear of any "muck". The home owners would cut the cattails and all of the other tall weeds that would grow and in fact some of them had made machines that they would put on the back of fishing boats that resembled a lawn mower engine with a long shaft that had a blade on the end of it and they would clear out all of the weeds and overgrowth with those devices. No one ever bothered them (DNR, Department of Wetlands, etc.). It was a great time to live on the bay and it was a great place to enjoy everything from swimming to camping to spending a weekend day grilling with family and friends. You could walk out quite a ways at the state park before the water got up to your neck and it was perfectly clear of weeds and muck. NONE!

LadyBuggs believes the cleanup should benefit humans:
I remember when the beaches were clean, too. This is disgusting. Maybe a few million gallons of bleach could kill some algae and whatever is causing it. Not allowing clean up probably is a source of some of the trouble. Why should our beaches look like crap when there are places like Tobico Marsh for wetlands to keep wildlife happy?
dwbanaszak said zebra mussels are to blame:

The more likely culprit lies in the invasion of the zebra mussel. The filtration ability of the mussels allows sunlight to penetrate to 10 feet where it only used to penetrate about 2 feet. This means more aquatic plant growth and the mussels actually release nutrients that encourage the growth of blue-green algae. Algae blooms create mats of rotting plant material that gets choked by the blooms and together the material degrades into the muck that pervades our beaches.

Discerning the source of the human fecal matter is probably just as important for beach health as grooming the muck off the beach and removing the phragmites.
 
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