BALD HEAD ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — A swimming alert has been issued at a sound-side site in Brunswick County that showed levels of bacteria higher than the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The alert is for waters at access #1 between the Bald Head Harbor entrance and the mouth of Bald Head Creek in Bald Head Island.
Test results of water samples collected on Tuesday show 111 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.
State officials will sample the site again today, and test results of the sampling 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 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 is not known to 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 sample 210 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.