Berrien County loses majority of funding for beach monitoring

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- As the temperatures warm up, beachgoers in Berrien County may have to watch out for more than just good weather. Michigan health departments don’t have as much money this year to do beach monitoring, which means swimmers could be unknowingly exposing themselves to contaminants like e-coli.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality earmarked two-thirds of the money they would've normally given for beach monitoring to a special study.

Last year, the Berrien County Health Department sampled 14 beaches weekly.

This year, they’ll only be able to do five.

The samples collected measure things like e-coli and based on what inspectors find -- they make a determination on whether to close a beach.

That has a trickle down effect on tourism and how much money is spent in counties near the lake shore.

“People check that website. They check it before they come and make their vacation plans to make sure that beach is open,” said Ken Priest, Environmental Health Director.

“We wouldn’t want to go to a beach that has the bacteria in it, because what’s the point? You can’t go in," said Heather Mays, visiting from Ohio.

The Berrien County Health Department normally receives around $16,000 a year to do beach monitoring. This year they will only receive about $5,000.

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