The Environmental Health Division of the Grand Traverse County Health Department works closely with the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, the City of Traverse City, and the Traverse City State Park to insure the health and safety of several public beaches throughout Grand Traverse County. The Watershed Center administers grants from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to sample surface water from swim areas of the beaches. The water samples are analyzed for E. coli , a relatively harmless organism that may indicate the possible presence of harmful pathogenic microorganisms.
The GTCHD interprets sample results and posts the "Weekly Beach Report", including the "Water Quality Index", which is a numerical system of alerting the public regarding contact with surface water. For example, Level 1 is safe for full body contact, Level 2 is safe for contact below the waste, Level 3 means no body contact, and Level 4 is a health alert with no body contact due to gross contamination.
In addition, the GTCHD has organized a coalition of agencies known as the "Beach Monitoring Stakeholders Group" that regularly meets to discuss surface water quality issues as they relate to healthy beaches.