MOREHEAD CITY, NC (NCDENR) -– The state Division of Marine Fisheries today lifted three water quality swimming advisories and one swimming alert in New Hanover County.
The advisories and the alert were lifted because water testing shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.
The advisories were issued on July 27. The swimming areas affected were located at the CAMA access at the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Sunset Avenue in Wrightsville Beach; the public beach on Masonboro Sound at the end of Florida Avenue in Carolina Beach and the public beach access off Loggerhead Road at Fort Fisher State Park. Test results showed these sites had exceeded state and federal recreational water quality standards. These areas now show bacteria levels below standards, and the signs advising against swimming, skiing or otherwise coming into contact with the water have been removed.
The alert affected waters at the public beach adjacent to the NC Wildlife Resource Commission boat ramp at Fort Fisher. Initial test results taken on July 27 showed the site had exceeded the single-sample maximum standard for low usage sites. Subsequent testing of the site indicated bacteria levels that fall below the state and federal recreational water quality standards, and no further action is needed at this time.
Enterococci, the name for the group of bacteria used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While the bacteria group’s presence does not cause illness itself, scientific studies indicate that the presence of enterococci is closely correlated to the presence of other organisms that may cause illness. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.
Coastal recreational waters in North Carolina are generally very clean. However, it is important to continue monitoring them, so we can inform the public of any localized problems. The NC Recreational Water Quality Program samples 240 sampling sites in coastal waters of the state, most of them on a weekly basis from April through October.
For more information about the program, visit its website at: http://www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/shellfish/Water_Monitoring/RWQweb/index.htm or on Twitter.com: @ncrecprgm.