Water warning issued

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Goose Creek State Park waters may not be fit to swim in this week. State recreational water quality officials issued an alert Wednesday after initial testing at the park found high levels of bacteria.
“An alert is a pending advisory based on results of a second sample,” said water quality officials in Wednesday’s alert.
Environmental specialists take weekly samples of water from several Beaufort County sites and issue alerts when the 24-hour tests show results that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.
Specialists then return to the site for a second sample. Results of the second sample are expected today after 3 p.m. If they mirror Wednesday’s results, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.
This is the first alert state officials have issued for Goose Creek State Park this summer, said Erin Bryan-Millush, an environmental specialist with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Wednesday’s sample had 150 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, the alert said.
Bryan-Millush said enterococci are found in the guts of warm-blooded animals, which are associated with salmonella and E.Coli.
She said the levels were not indicative of contamination.
“It is most likely from wild animals,” Bryan-Millush said.
The sample was taken near a creek at the park and storm water most likely washed a lot of excrement from wild animals into the creek.
“Storm water is a great contributing factor to water quality. When we get a lot of storm water, we usually say wait 24 hours before swimming,” Bryan-Millush said.
According to the alert, 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 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 the waters are colder.
To find out more about North Carolina’s beach water quality, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-water-quality or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.