Advisory for Pantego Creek swimmers

Published 9:26 pm Monday, May 5, 2014

BELHAVEN—On May 2, an advisory against swimming was posted at a site in Pantego Creek in Belhaven.

According to J. D. Potts, manager of the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, state recreational water quality officials found bacteria in the water that exceeded state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

Potts said the advisory affects the public access to Pantego Creek at the intersection of East Main and Tooley streets in Belhaven where test results indicate a running monthly average of 43 enterococci per 100 mL of water. This exceeds the state and federal standards of a running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 mL, based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.

“We sample there weekly and we posted the swimming advisory because the monthly average had been exceeded,” said Potts.

Enterococci, according to Potts, is the name for the group of bacteria used for testing and 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 increase risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

Potts said, however, that the 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.

“It’s really not exceeded by that much,” Potts said. “This just means people are at an increased risk if they swim there while we have it under an advisory.”

State officials will continue testing the site and will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.

For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website at or on @ncrecprgm.