Swimming advisory posted at Belhaven

Published 7:49 pm Wednesday, May 2, 2012

NCDMF News Release

An advisory against swimming was posted Wednesday at a sound-side site in Beaufort County where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed state and the Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

The advisory affects the public access to Pantego Creek at the intersection of East Main and Tooley streets in Belhaven. This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Belhaven area. Swimming advisories affect water within 200 feet of the sign.

Test results indicate a running monthly geometric mean that exceeds the state and federal standards of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water for high usage sites. This running monthly geometric average is based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.

Enterococci, the name for the group of bacteria used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While the bacteria group’s presence does not cause illness itself, scientific studies indicate that the presence of enterococci is closely correlated to the presence of other organisms that may cause illness. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
The advisory sign will remain up for at least two weeks. State officials will continue testing the site and remove the sign and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.

Recreational water quality officials sample 240 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 fewer people are in the water.