September 23, 2014

Tests still being performed on E. coli in Whitney Drain.

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WHITNEY TOWNSHIP — More tests are being performed on the Whitney Drain to find the source of E. coli spikes.

Arenac County District 3 Commissioner Michael Snyder said there are now four primary hot spots in the drain that spike during “rain event situations” Previously, there had been three hot spots reported, but in a meeting held on Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Whitney Township Hall, the Whitney Intercounty Drainage Board was given further details of E. coli spikes in the drain.

“During rain event situations, the E. coli numbers spike into the thousands,” Snyder said. “Ultimately, we would like to see those numbers in the low hundreds.”

He said that the source of the fecal material has not been found.

“We are not sure if it’s human or animal,” Snyder said. “All we know is we don’t want it.”

Snyder said the situation with the Whitney Drain has gotten too big for the Drainage Board to fix on its own.

“This is way beyond us,” he said. “We need to find out what this is. The (federal government) and the state are now getting involved.”

Snyder said that a toxicologist from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has begun performing tests on DNA to find if the waste in the drain is human or animal.

“She is accumulating data for us,” he said.

Snyder said that the Central Michigan Health Department and Michigan State University have also been performing tests on the drain.

Snyder said in an interview in August that E. coli tests are expensive and cost around $150 dollars per sample.

He said the Whitney Intercounty Drainage Board gave $3,000 to perform tests.

“I believe there has been a sincere effort to find the cause,” he said.

There was concern among the members of the Drainage Board that a construction project in 2003 may have been the cause of the high E. Coli in areas of the drain.

“That no longer appears to be the case,” he said.

Snyder said the Drainage Board is hoping to hold a meeting in December to go over tests results and inform the public of the findings.

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