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Ottawa County Ahead of Water Quality Testing Curve

12:27 PM, Dec 16, 2012   |    comments
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Holland, MI (WZZM) - It might be hard to think about beach weather in the middle of December, but the Environmental Protection Agency is doing just that.

New water quality testing recommendations were recently released for the nation.

Because of Ottawa County's extensive shoreline in combination with the thousands of visitors the beaches see every year, grant money was awarded to the Ottawa County Health Department to pioneer some of these new testing methods.

Adeline Hambley, Environmental Health Manager Ottawa County Health Department explained, "The EPA recently released new methods to do more rapid testing.  So, they're looking at QPCR which has a four hour turn around time from sample to result.  And why that's important is that our current sampling methods take 18-24 hours to get results."

The most widely used sampling method is called I-DEX and is relatively easy to use.

Vijay Kannappan, Senior Environmental Health Toxicologist: "So, in this trace, we see a blue fluorescing wells.  Which is basically the presence, which indicates the presence of E coli."
"We are also testing another method called IMS-ATP, which is called Imuno-magnetic separation.  It's very much faster.  More expensive, it's more tedious."

The newer method also requires more expertise, which means a higher pay-grade.

With budget constraints, it may not be possible to use the new method in most laboratories.

The Ottawa County Health Department will continue to run both methods through the end of the year when they will report on the future of testing methods.

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