Lac du Flambeau Beach Sampling Project
The Water Resource Program of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (LdF Tribe) gathers information to assess aquatic health, evaluate environmental problems, and to determine success of management actions that are intended to protect aquatic resources and those that rely on aquatic resources. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act 106 funding is requiring tribes to report on 9 parameters (water temperature, Dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, phosphorus, total nitrogen, macroinvertebrates, E. coli, and basic habitat) and develop a monitoring strategy that describes how these parameters will be collected for Reservation waters. The beach sampling project will cover sampling for Fecal contamination by collecting weekly samples of E. coli at public recreational beaches.
Within Lac du Flambeau Fecal contamination of recreational waters may originate from many sources, including shoreline development, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, on-site wastewater treatment systems, urban runoff, disposal of human waste from boats, swimmers themselves, pet wastes, and natural animal sources such as wildlife. People who swim and recreate in water contaminated with fecal pollution are at an increased risk of becoming ill because of pathogens from the fecal matter. This beach monitoring program in collaboration with Vilas County helps to identify contamination so notification can be given to the public. The beaches identified to be sampled are areas that public congregate for swimming.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
“Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria normally live in the intestines of people and animals. Most E. coli are harmless and actually are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli are pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness, either diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract. The types of E. coli that can cause diarrhea can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons.”
To see what the 6 pathotypes of E. coli that associated with sickness, check out: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/general/index.html
Within the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Water Quality Standards, the bacteriological criteria are created in such to protect waters for human contact. The criteria for the public beaches or swimming areas are as follows:
“For lakes and rivers that are used for swimming or submergence bacteriological density shall not exceed a monthly geometric mean of 126 Escherichia coli (E. coli) per 100ml, or a single sample maximum of 235 cfu [mpn] Escherichia coli /100ml. (Lac du Flambeau Tribal Water Quality Standards, 105(B)(1)(a))
For this summer of 2020, our swimming areas have not crossed the criteria under our Water Quality Standards as of June 8th 2020. Even though the levels are below the criteria, use caution when swimming in those areas.
Table 1: Lac du Flambeau Beach Status
Figure 1: Map of the beaches/swimming areas sampled for E. coli (Gray marker was not done during June 8th, will be done on June 15th)