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Swimming advisories issued for three sites in New Hanover County

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MOREHEAD CITY, NC (NCDENR) -– Three recreational swimming advisories and one alert were issued today at ocean-side and sound-side locations in New Hanover County. State officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

One advisory was issued for the CAMA Access at the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Sunset Avenue in Wrightsville Beach. A second advisory was issued for the public beach access off Loggerhead Road at Fort Fisher State Park. Samples taken at these locations Tuesday indicate levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high usage sites.

The third advisory was for the public beach on Masonboro Sound at the end of Florida Avenue in Carolina Beach. Samples collected Tuesday show enterococci levels that exceed state and federal action levels for Tier 2 low usage sites.

Advisories are not beach closings, and these advisories do not pertain to the entire New Hanover County area. Swimming advisories pertain to water within 200 feet of the sign. The sign 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 test the sites again today, and they will remove the sign and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.

The alert was issued for the public beach adjacent to the NC Wildlife Resource Commission boat ramp at Fort Fisher. Samples collected Tuesday show enterococci levels that exceed the state and federal single-sample standard for Tier 2 low usage sites. State officials will test the site again today. Results of the sampling will dictate further action. If the new samples also show elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.

The NC Division of Marine Fisheries sample 240 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. Samples are collected in accordance with federal and state laws. Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While the bacteria group does not cause illness itself, 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.

To find out more about North Carolina's beach water quality, visit the NC Recreational Water Quality Program’s website at: http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/shellfish/Water_Monitoring/RWQweb/index.h....

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