BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (Press Release) — State officials announced Tuesday that bacteria levels at most ocean swimming sites in Brunswick County meet state and Environmental Protection Agency standards for swimming and other contact with the water.
The state also lifted a swimming alert of one ocean site in Emerald Isle in Carteret County.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Recreational Water Quality Program tested all established ocean swimming sites in Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach and found that bacteria levels do not exceed the standards.
The swimming alert for the public beach access just west of the junction of Coast Guard Road and Inlet Drive in Emerald Isle has also been lifted, after subsequent sampling of the site also shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.
A precautionary advisory remains in effect for ocean waters in Bald Head Island in Brunswick County and for coastal rivers and sounds south of Ocracoke Island. Residents and visitors, including fishermen, who cannot avoid contacting these waters should exercise caution, limit wound exposure, and thoroughly wash their hands.
The Recreational Water Quality Program will continue testing in these other coastal areas.
Excessive rains and flooding can cause high levels of bacteria in the water that can make people sick. Floodwaters and storm water runoff can contain pollutants such as waste from septic systems, sewer line breaks, pet waste, wildlife, petroleum products and other chemicals.
While state officials do not have immediate laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the waters, there is an increased chance that contamination is present, and those swimming have an increased chance of adverse health effects.
Because waters affected by the storm are so widespread, signs are not posted.