Swimming alerts issued for two beach accesses on Topsail Island

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Topsail Island (Photo: Hannah Patrick/WWAY)

UPDATE: The advisories have been lifted.

TOPSAIL ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — On Tuesday, state officials say tests showed there are two beach accesses in Pender County with levels of bacteria exceeding the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.

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The alerts affect swimming areas along Topsail Island. The first is located at the public beach access at South Shore Drive and Kinston Avenue adjacent to the ocean pier in Surf City. The other is located at the public beach access #1A across from Catherine Avenue in Topsail Beach.

Samples collected on Monday show test results 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 test the sites again on Tuesday, and the 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 N.C. 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.