UPDATED: Swimming advisory lifted for Colington Harbour soundside beach

[CoastalReview.org photo]

UPDATED, Saturday 6 p.m.: State recreational water quality officials have lifted the water quality swimming advisory for the swimming area along the Albemarle Sound off Colington Harbour.

Additional water testing shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.

Earlier story:
An advisory against swimming was posted today at the sound-side Colington Harbour swimming beach, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

Tests of water samples taken on Aug. 5 indicate bacteria levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high-usage sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.

The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws. Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it does not 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 action level have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory impact the entire Kill Devil Hills area. Swimming advisories are for water within 200 feet of the sign. The sign posted reads as follows:

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.

State 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 the waters are colder.