Three water quality swimming advisories issued in Dare County

Advisories against swimming were posted today in three locations in Dare County, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

State officials believe that stormwater runoff from recent heavy rainfall contributed to the high bacteria counts.

Signs advising the public against swimming and water play were posted at the following areas:

  • Sound-side swimming area in Colington Harbour located at the end of Colington Drive in Kill Devil Hills at the swim beach facing the Croatan Sound.
  • Ocean-side swimming areas in Nags Head located at the public beach accesses at East Abalone Street and at East Curlew Street

Water samples taken on July 1 and July 2 indicate levels that exceed the running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters of sample, based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.

Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it is not known to cause illness, scientific studies show 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.

These advisories are not a beach closing, nor do the advisories affect the entire Nags Head or Kill Devil Hills areas. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign. The signs posted reads as follows:

 ATTENTION

SWIMMING IN THIS AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED. BACTERIA TESTING INDICATES

LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION THAT MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH. THIS ADVISORY AFFECTS WATERS WITHIN 200’ OF THIS SIGN.

OFFICE OF THE STATE HEALTH DIRECTOR

State officials will continue testing the sites, and they will remove the signs and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.

Recreational water quality officials sample 221 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.

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.

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