Bacteria levels lead to swimming alert at Carolina Beach

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CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Water tests taken from the public beach access at Hamlet Avenue in Carolina Beach showed levels of bacteria that exceeds the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.

According to a news release, samples collected yesterday showed test results of 324 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, which exceeds the state and federal single-sample standard 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.

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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 standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

State officials will test the site again today. Those results will determine what happens next. If new samples show elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.

The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws.



State officials sample 204 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.