Water quality swimming alert lifted for sound-side site in Beaufort County

Published 8:17 am Wednesday, July 22, 2020

From North Carolina Department of Marine Fisheries


MOREHEAD CITY — State recreational water quality officials have lifted a water quality swimming alert at a sound-side site in Beaufort County.

Subsequent sampling of the site shows that bacteria levels have dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.

The alert was waters at the Ragged Point swim area in the Pamlico River near Washington. Tests of water samples taken on July 15 showed bacteria levels at the site had exceeded the single-sample maximum standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water for a Tier 1 high-usage site. Subsequent testing on July 16 showed the bacteria level at 31 enterococci per 100 milliliters.

The swimming advisory posted at the public access to Pantego Creek at the intersection of East Main and Tooley streets in Belhaven remains in effect.

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.

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 210 sites in coastal waters of the state, most of them on a weekly basis from April through October.

For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website , view a map of the testing sites, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.