Swimming advisory lifted for Bald Head Island, alerts issued in Oak Island

Bald Head Island (Photo: WWAY)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (Press Release) — State recreational water quality officials announced today that bacteria levels at swimming sites in Bald Head Island meet state and Environmental Protection Agency standards for swimming and other contact with the water.

State officials also are alerting the public that initial testing at three sites in Oak Island showed levels of bacteria exceeding the standards.

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Recreational Water Quality Program has tested a representative sample of established swimming sites along Bald Head Island and found that bacteria levels do not exceed swimming standards. However, beach-goers should still avoid swimming at sites where floodwaters being pumped to the ocean in different locations around Bald Head Island. Signs will be placed at the discharge sites to warn the public of the possible health risk.

All precautionary swimming advisories put in place due to Hurricane Florence are now lifted.

The three sites under alert in Oak Island are due to bacteriological testing. Those sites are at:

  • Southeast 58th Street and East Beach Drive
  • Ocean Drive and Keziah Street
  • Lighthouse Park off Caswell Beach Road

Test results of water samples collected yesterday at these sites show bacterial levels that exceed 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.

State officials will water samples from these sites again today, and test results of the samples will dictate further action. If the new samples also 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.

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.