Posts Tagged ‘E. coli’

HRWC gets help from the dogs!



Investigating Honey Creek

HRWC, with funding from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is working to identify and control or eliminate bacteria and other pathogen sources in Honey Creek. We are currently implementing  projects within critical areas of the watershed that will address the sources of the contamination. One project is investigating areas that were identified during the watershed management planning process as having human-sourced bacteria.

In 2013 HRWC conducted Bacterial Source Tracking (BST) on water samples from Honey Creek locations that we found to exceed the Total Body Contact standard for E. coli. A laboratory analyzed the E. coli DNA material for the presence of five markers which identify its source as human, cow, dog, horse, or goose. Samples from two target critical areas were identified as having strong indication of human-sourced bacteria.

Kenna alerting at creek.

Kenna alerting at creek.

Enter the Dog Detectives

To confirm the lab results and determine where this bacteria was coming from, HRWC took an innovative approach. We enlisted the help of a couple of dog detectives! These are not just any dogs, they are trained specifically to detect human sewage in surface water and storm water systems caused by failing septic systems, leaking sewer lines or illicit discharges. Environmental Canine Services, LLC (ECS), helped us investigate the two branches of Honey Creek identified during the BST process. We were also joined by staff from the Washtenaw Water Resources Commissioners Office, and Washtenaw County Public Health. Dogs, Kenna and Abbey, were diligent workers and a delight to watch.

Abbey alerting at creek.

Abbey alerting at creek.

Great Lakes Now recently reported on this innovative approach, interviewing Karen Reynolds, President of ECS, during her visit to Michigan.

There is still more to do. HRWC will further analyze the results from this latest investigation, and determine next steps with project partners.

More information about our work in Honey Creek

And remember, you can help keep bacteria out of our streams by maintaining your septic system.


New Project to Help Honey Creek

Map of Honey Creek project area

Honey Creek project area showing DEQ sampling sites. HRWC also monitors at station #4.

HRWC, cialis partnering with Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner and Scio Township, will soon launch a new project to better understand the source(s) of bacterial contamination in Honey Creek and develop a plan to reduce or eliminate the problem. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently announced that they will be awarding HRWC a grant of nearly $75, here 000 to do the work. Major elements of the project include:

  • Monitoring starting in Spring 2012 at locations throughout Honey Creekshed;
  • Bacterial Source Tracking to determine animal or human sources of bacteria;
  • Development of a plan to reduce or eliminate the sources; and
  • A local workshop to get input on the plan and educate residents about the problem.

An article describing the project and providing further background can be found on

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