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Great Lakes Article:

Councilman wants Maumee Bay park in bacteria study
The Toledo Blade

An Oregon city councilman is expected to introduce a resolution calling for Maumee Bay State Park to be a national pilot site for an advanced bacteria-testing protocol being developed by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laboratory in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Jim Seaman said yesterday he will introduce the resolution at Monday’s council meeting because the park deserves consideration as a focal point.

However, EPA likely will move on to either another Great Lake or else the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, or the Gulf of Mexico after it completes its pilot study that began Saturday at Huntington Beach in Cleveland.

Huntington Beach followed West Beach in Indiana as the second in which the lab technique is being studied. The latter beach, part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, is along Lake Michigan.

The goal is to narrow the turnaround time for waterborne bacteria test results to two hours or less. Such results typically take 18 to 24 hours now, meaning that people can be unknowingly exposed to bacteria or needlessly kept away from the water because of the time lag.

"What we’re doing is perfecting the test. The purpose of these [pilot studies] is to calibrate the tests themselves," said Michael Brown, EPA associate assistant administrator for research and development.

"We need it as bad as anyone else does. We’d like to be at the top of the list," Mr. Seaman said. "In this era of instant communication, it seems like [a two-hour turnaround for bacteria results] is not asking too much."

Mr. Seaman said he hopes Sen. George Voinovich (R., Ohio) can make a case for bringing the study to Oregon.

Maumee Bay State Park has been hailed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as the "jewel" of the state park system for years, including much of the time Mr. Voinovich served as governor.

But the park also has been plagued by bacteria for years. That contributes to Oregon’s overall difficulties in achieving its potential as a tourist destination, Mr. Seaman said.

"It’s going to be fully realized when this [bacteria] issue is resolved," he said. Mr. Seaman is a member of the council’s parks and recreation committee and finance committee.

But Maumee Bay State Park’s chances of being chosen don’t look good. "The next beaches will be beaches other than those along Lake Erie," Mr. Brown said.

The Ohio Department of Health’s Web site yesterday showed swimming advisory signs posted at Maumee Bay State Park’s Lake Erie beach since July 24 and at the park’s inland pond since July 28. But the Web site also said the figures had not been updated since Friday.

Decisions on posting swimming advisories are based on an average of the five most recent test results. Samples are drawn every Monday through Thursday, with at least a day time lag after each one.

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