Extreme high tides may cause pollution in ocean in parts of Cape Hatteras National Seashore

[Courtesy NCDOT NC 12 Facebook]

State recreational water quality officials today advise the public to be aware of potential pollution from possible septic system failures in ocean swimming waters along parts of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is experiencing extreme high tides caused by a low pressure system that may have inundated septic system drain fields or caused sewage line breaks at homes in certain areas. The public should avoid swimming in waters near exposed pipes, and should be particularly cautious in the following areas:

  • Rodanthe – ocean waters near Beacon Road, along GA Kohler Court, and near Ocean Drive.
  • Buxton – ocean waters along Tower Circle.

While state officials do not have laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the water, there is an increased chance that contamination is present in the areas identified, and that those swimming have an increased chance of adverse health effects. Wastewater exposure can cause adverse health effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and skin infections, the public is advised to avoid bodily contact with these waters.

Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in these waters until tidal conditions subside and bacteriological testing indicates sample results within state and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Testing will begin as soon as the area is accessible, and the public will be notified by press release as test results become available.

Recreational water quality officials sample 215 sites throughout the coastal region, most of them on a weekly basis from April to October. Testing continues on a reduced schedule during the rest of the year, when waters are colder.

For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program or to a view a map of testing sites, visit the program’s website, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.