2 advisories, 1 alert lifted on Beaufort County waters

Published 6:18 pm Friday, April 28, 2017

MOREHEAD CITY — State recreational water-quality officials lifted two swimming advisories and one swimming alert Friday for three areas in Beaufort County.

The notifications were lifted because water testing shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for swimming and water play.

The advisories were posted Thursday at the access near the end of Christian Service Camp Road, southeast of Austin Point in Washington and at the public access at the junction of upper Goose Creek and Dinah’s Landing near Washington. Tests of water samples from these sites showed bacteria levels that exceeded 276 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, the standard for low-usage sites. Tests of water samples now show bacteria levels below the state and federal recreational water-quality standards.

The signs advising against swimming, skiing or otherwise coming into contact with the water have been removed.

The alert affected waters along the Pamlico River at the east shore of Blounts Bay near the end of Captain’s Walk Road near Washington. Tests of water samples taken from this site Wednesday showed bacteria levels that exceeded the single-sample maximum standard of 276 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water for a Tier 2 low-usage site. Subsequent testing of water samples taken Thursday showed the bacteria level at less than 10 enterococci per 100 milliliters.

An additional advisory that was posted Thursday remains in effect and is located at the public access at the intersection of East Main and Tooley streets in Belhaven. State officials will continue testing this site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standard.

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.

Coastal recreational waters in North Carolina are generally clean. However, it is important to continue monitoring them, so the public can be informed of any localized problems. The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program samples 204 sites in coastal waters of the state, most of them on a weekly basis from April through October.