As your “Water Resources” girl (AKA “the Cootie Queen”) – let’s talk about poo and sewage, since Kalamazoo just accidentally released 570,000 gallons of it into the Kalamazoo River. Ugh.
It’s probably a good idea to stay out of ANY river or small lake/pond after a heavy rainfall, for a few days until sunlight can kill some of the pathogens. E-coli and its pathogenic friends come from any warm-blooded animal, including birds, farm animals, pets, and wild animals – and a heavy rain will wash an amazing amount of critter poo into storm drains which lead to local rivers (as a rule for cities); or into Agricultural Drains which lead to rivers or lakes (rural areas). Then, if the sewage plants have overflows (most communities are trying to stop this from happening) – you get a double whammy of human pathogens, too.
I’m not sure how far downstream the e-coli released into the Kalamazoo River will travel. On its journey to Lake Michigan, it will get diluted and exposed to sunlight which kills it. I’d like to think that it’s a non-event by the time it gets to Plainwell? But we won’t know unless someone is actually testing the water. And because very few sites actually get tested* – we go full circle back to my adage about staying out of non-beach water after a heavy rain for a few days. Let Mother Nature do her thing and clean it up.
*Large public beaches are routinely tested for e-coli; and in my opinion, unless situated right next to a tributary bringing water from outlying lands, most public beaches are less-affected by heavy rain runoff. We saw this during our June Around-Gun-Lake water testing, conducted after a night of heavy rain: our public beaches were fine; but the channels/tributaries had elevated e-coli. I re-tested a week later, and the places with high e-coli, were back to “safe”.
Think of heavy rain as a “giant flush”. Every time I’ve seen astronomical e-coli readings on the Cuddy – it was after a heavy rainstorm. I truly doubt it’s just a “Cuddy” thing – I think it’s that way for every drain, creek and river; and probably for smaller ponds/lakes, too. We just don’t hear about the temporarily-high e-coli because nobody is testing the water.