An advisory against swimming was posted Wednesday at the popular sound-side Jockey’s Ridge access in Nags Head, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory was posted at an area of the beach where test results of water samples indicate a running monthly average of 36 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water. This exceeds the state and federal standards of a running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters, based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.
Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it is not known to cause illness, scientific studies indicate that enterococci may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Nags Head area. Swimming advisories affect water within 200 feet of the sign.
State officials will continue testing the site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
Recreational water quality officials sample 210 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 fewer people are in the water.