Belle Isle's beaches were closed for two days because of E. coli, and experts are scratching their heads over how that happened

Swimmers at Belle Isle beach on June 2
Photo credit © Ryan Garza / USA TODAY NETWORK

DETROIT (WWJ) – Last weekend many Detroiters were looking for a way to beat the heat, but weren’t exactly able to go to one of their favorite spots.

The beach at Belle Isle was closed for two straight days due to high levels of E. coli in the water, though that didn't stop some from wading in.

Reports of E. coli may not be uncommon in Metro Detroit, but WWJ’s Brian Fisher learns on a new Daily J podcast the closure at Belle Isle left experts scratching their heads.

“E. coli bacteria can get into the water in many ways, but ultimately, it’s coming from either human or animal feces most of the time,” said Susan Peters with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

While there are many ways it can get into the water, Donna Kashian, Director of Environmental Science at Wayne State University, was surprised by the contamination at Belle Isle because there’s a strong water flow in the Detroit River.

“Because it has flow, the water’s constantly moving and the likelihood when there’s a current of this build up of bacteria is lower,” Kashian said.

She said what’s a further surprise is that it happened when it did, as Detroit has seen extra dry conditions in recent weeks, meaning there hasn’t been rain to carry the bacteria into the water via runoff.

Experts are working on new testing methods to help identify the cause of E. coli contamination.

Fisher also learned from the experts that E. coli may not be the only threat in the water.

Want The Daily J delivered right to you, every Monday-Friday? Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, including on the FREE Audacy App.

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Ryan Garza / USA TODAY NETWORK