UPDATED: Advisory has been dropped for Colington Harbour’s swimming beach

Soundfront Park [Photo courtesy Colington Harbour Association]

Updated, Wednesday 9 p.m.
State recreational water quality officials have rescinded the water quality swimming advisory for the Colington Harbour swimming beach at the end of Colington Drive.

The advisory was lifted because water testing now shows bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and
Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.

The sign advising against swimming, skiing or otherwise coming into contact with the water at the area along the Albemarle Sound has been removed.

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Recreational Water Quality Program on Tuesday issued an advisory against swimming at Colington Harbour’s sound-side swimming beach due to bacteria levels in the water exceeding state and federal recreational water quality standards.

Tests of water samples taken Monday at the beach at the end of Colington Drive indicate a running monthly average bacteria level of 42 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,” Marine Fisheries said in a news release.

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, the release said.

The advisory is not a beach closing and only pertains to the Colington Harbour swimming beach, not all of Kill Devil Hills, the release said.

“Swimming advisories pertain to water within 200 feet of the sign,” Marine Fisheries said.

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 209 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.