Water Testing for Safe Water

Asked July 8, 2020, 4:42 PM EDT

Hello, we have a 1 acre and 33 acre lake in the back of our house. Where can I get water tested to see if the water is safe to swim in ?

Ingham County Michigan

1 Response

There are several things that would make the water unsafe for swimming. These include high E. coli bacteria, indicating sewage input, harmful algal blooms, which have different toxins that can affect human health, swimmer's itch, which can cause skin rashes, hives, and lots of itching, and contaminants such as PFAS or PCBs. If your ponds are not connected to an inflowing stream, I'd probably rule out the last one. So, you might consider sending a sample in to either a private testing lab or to EGLE's drinking water lab (and make sure you indicate that the sample is Pond water and not well water). Have them test for E. coli and/or fecal coliforms. The cost is $25 for each test. For the harmful algal blooms, watch for water that is blue-green, paint-like green, red or pink, or with green clumps. If this is apparent, don't swim in the water until the "bloom" dissipates. The stringy looking mats that float on the surface are not usually harmful algal blooms but rather green algae. They may not be preferable to swim in, but they are not toxic. The various documents you'll need to look at for collecting and sending in a sample are available at: https://www.michigan.gov/egle/0,9429,7-135-3307_4131_4155---,00.html . Thanks for your question.