By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Crossroads For Youth’s beach on Handsome Lake in Oxford Township was closed June 29 due to “high bacteria levels” from “storm water runoff” according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The beach remains closed as of July 5.
The 22-acre Handsome Lake sits on the Crossroads For Youth property on E. Drahner Rd. The private, nonprofit facility provides at-risk children ages 7-17 a safe environment to receive counseling, therapy, educational aid and support in a rural setting.
The Oakland County Health Division monitors the beach for E.coli bacteria levels once a week during the summer. The 2021 Beach Monitoring Program began on June 7 and concludes Aug. 13. This year the county is monitoring 100 beaches on 59 different lakes. As of July 5, Crossroads’ beach is the only local beach closed.
The water collection and beach surveying are conducted by environmental health students hired by the county for summer internships. Water at each of the beaches is tested on a weekly basis, measuring for an indicator bacteria, E.coli. As an indicator, if E.coli is present, other, more harmful and harder to detect organisms could be present, according to the county health division.
Open beaches must remain below the one day standard of 300 colonies per 100 milliliters of water and a 30 day geometric average of 130 colonies per 100 milliliters. The geometric average is “of all individual samples taken during five or more sampling events representatively spread over a 30-day period,” according to state standards. If a beach does not meet the water quality standard, it will be closed until satisfactory samples are obtained.
According to EGLE’s beach monitoring system, the Crossroads beach tested for 2,419 colonies June 30 and was down to 478 on July 1.
The beach had also been closed for one day, June 22, when the water tested at 1,644. It was down to 252 the next day. For comparison, it tested at only 6 colonies on June 7.
According to EGLE, the beach was also closed for eight days last year, August 12-20, due to high bacteria levels from “wildlife.”
For comparison of other area beaches, Scripter Beach on Round Lake in Oxford Village tested for 46 colonies on June 28, Stony Lake in Oxford Township had a value of 45 on June 29, and Clear Lake in Oxford Township had a value of 22 on June 30.