MOREHEAD CITY, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -– North Carolina's first advisory against swimming in 2012 was posted today at a sound-side site in New Hanover County, where state environmental health officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory affects the public beach access in Banks Channel off Waynick Boulevard between Taylor and Bellamy Streets in Wrightsville Beach. Test results taken on April 2 indicate 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 NC 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, are 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, and the advisory does not affect the entire Wrightsville Beach 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 recreational water quality 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 NC Recreational Water Quality Program's website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-water-quality or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.