GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — From fishermen to families, Maplewood Park in Georgetown Township is a summer hot spot. But high E. coli levels at the lake there have forced swimmers to avoid the water for years.
Township officials even removed the beach seven years ago and added a splash pad to keep people out of the water.
Now, a new study has revealed part of the problem: human waste leaking into the lake. And some homeowners may have to pay up to help fix the problem.
“Noticed that some of the slime and what have you in the lake. This past spring it was really, really dirty. They did spray it and clean it up,” Jim Kenyon told 24 Hour News 8.
Kenyon lives along the water is all too familiar with the recent E. coli issues. The new discovery comes as no surprise.
Just a yard over from his home is one of the entry points where dogs sniffed out human wastewater in the study commissioned by the township.
It’s a problem believed to be caused by faulty septic systems in nearby homes.
The main issue?
“We’re not going to be able to know for sure how many or which homes,” Georgetown Township Superintendent Dan Carlton told 24 Hour News 8 Friday.
Now, it’s up to the township board to find a solution. Two options are to enact a mandatory hookup to the township’s sewer system for homeowners who do have access and add an additional sewer line for those who don’t.
The township’s connection fee is $2800.
“The hardest part would be maybe those who fixed it (septic systems) more recently — and what they have to face,” Carlton said.
But even if the human waste is cleaned out, it’s unclear if swimmers will be able to return to the lake. E. coli levels may remain too high due to additional animal waste in the water. But more testing would be needed later to determine that.
Carlton is optimistic that people will eventually be allowed full access to the water once again.
“That’s the goal long-term,” Carlton said. “That’s why we started down this road.”
Kenyon’s home is already hooked up to a sewer line, so he won’t be affected. But he hopes the lake is cleaned up as well.
“It would be great. You would start seeing people use it more often,” Kenyon said.
As for fishing in lakes with high E. coli level — according to DNR officials, as long as people wash their hands well and cook the fish properly, they should be okay.