MOREHEAD CITY, NC (NCDENR) -– An advisory against swimming was posted today at a sound-side site in Brunswick County, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory affects an area in the Cape Fear River located at the swim beach adjacent to the Southport municipal pier in Southport. Test results taken yesterday indicate levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 276 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 2 low usage sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.
The NC Division of Marine Fisheries tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches 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.
This advisory is not a beach closing, and the advisory does not affect the entire Southport area. Swimming advisories affect water within 200 feet of the sign. The sign posted reads as follows:
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 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.
To find out more about North Carolina’s beach water quality, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program’s Web site at: http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/shellfish/Water_Monitoring/RWQweb/index.htm or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.