- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 17, 2014

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A new laboratory at Lake St. Clair Metropark in suburban Detroit aims to speed and improve the process of testing water at beaches in Michigan.

A ceremony marking the lab’s opening was held Monday in Macomb County’s Harrison Township following years of work to improve testing, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens and The Detroit News reported. It is part of a pilot project designed to help state officials plan for future water monitoring.

Tests run at the lab, located about 20 miles northeast of Detroit, will take a few hours rather than the 18 to 24 hours of previous tests, officials said.

“The bogus way we were testing in the past meant that we would find out tomorrow whether the lake was safe today,” said state Rep. Anthony Forlini, R-Harrison Township, who was a driving force behind the new laboratory. “It was an antiquated system from the 1980s.”

The lab is associated with the Huron to Erie Alliance for Research and Training Freshwater Center, also known as HEART. Wayne State University in Detroit, Macomb Community College, the Metroparks system and Macomb County are involved in the project.

The lab, funded by a one-time $100,000 state Department of Environmental Quality allocation, is located within an existing building at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Of interest is testing for E. coli bacteria, which can shut down swimming at beaches, as well as monitoring for other contaminants.

Operations at the lab are to begin July 1 and two years of analyzing and refining the accuracy of the new testing equipment will follow. Jon Allan, director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes, said several more labs could open in the state in the coming years.

“Parents need to know that they can plan to bring their kids to a place like this, and they can be safe and healthy,” Allan said.

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