Officials with the Water Treatment Plant in Marquette say bacteria like E. coli is a normal find in Lake Superior. High levels of it isn't.
"E. coli is a strand of bacteria that's common in water," said Curt Goodman, Superintendent of the Water/Wastewater Department. "It could be common in food; it could be at the micro organism that has a possibility of providing harmful symptoms."
Goodman says they perform weekly tests on five of the city's beaches. Testing is done 50 feet out, waist deep, and a foot under. It's done mid-day when the water should be the warmest to get the most accurate reading.
Part of that routine is South Beach, where high levels of E. coli were found last week. The report shows more than 500 counts of bacteria in the water. The state's recommendation? No more than 300 counts. The last time it was that high? In 2002 during the Dead River Flood.
The bacteria forms with wind change or major rainfall. Consuming it or bathing in it causes symptoms like stomach aches and diarrhea, which has beach goers, like Brianne Grlach, worried. She says she didn't even know the beach had been closed.
"Since it was just on Friday, how do they know it's safe two days later, what the actual level is, what that means for people just to go in the water, even just standing?" asks Grlich.
Goodman says it takes time to advise the public.
"From when you take a sample, you do not know the results for 18 to 24 hours," Goodman said.
In this case, the levels rose quickly and fell below the threshold in less than a day.