Swimming advisories lifted for most NC waters

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WILMINGTON, NC (Press Release) — State officials announced Friday in most coastal rivers and sounds are safe to swim in again following Hurricane Florence. 

The press release says that bacteria levels now meet state and Environmental Protection Agency standards for swimming and other contact with the water.

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Recreational Water Quality Program has tested a representative sample of established swimming sites in coastal rivers and sounds and found that bacteria levels do not exceed swimming standards.

The precautionary swimming advisory for most ocean swimming sites across the coast was lifted over the past two weeks.

Two places remain under advisory:

  • Ocean and sound sites around Bald Head Island – these waters have not been tested because they are inaccessible. Recreational Water Quality officials will collect water samples once conditions improve and notify the public when deemed safe for recreational use.
  • An advisory against swimming remains posted at a low-usage site 100 yards northeast of Gallant’s Channel Bridge in Beaufort. This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Beaufort area. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign. State officials will continue testing this site and will remove the sign and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards. The sign posted reads as follows:


The Recreational Water Quality Program tests waters for enterococci, a bacteria group found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it is not known to cause illness, scientific studies show 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.

Recreational water quality officials sample 209 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 waters are colder.