Recreational Water Quality
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Swimming Advisory Map
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Swimming Advisory means either that enterococci levels have exceeded EPA Standards for two consecutive tests or that enterococci levels of five samples collected within 30 days exceeds EPA standards.
Pending Swimming Advisory means that enterococci levels are elevated. The results from a second water sample will determine whether a Swimming Advisory will be issued or if the Pending Swimming Advisory is rescinded.
No Pending Swimming Advisory/Swimming Advisory means that enterococci levels are within the EPA standards for swimming at this particular monitoring site.
Precautionary Advisory – stormwater discharge area.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program began testing coastal waters in 1997. Our mission is to protect the public health by monitoring the quality of N.C.'s coastal recreational waters and notifying the public when bacteriological standards for safe bodily contact are exceeded. The coastal waters monitored include the ocean beaches, sounds, bays and estuarine rivers.
We test for enterococcus bacteria, an indicator organism found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it will not cause illness itself, its presence is correlated with that of organisms that can cause illness.
The program tests 213 swimming sites, most of them on a weekly basis during the swimming season, which runs from April through September. All ocean beaches and high-use sound-side beaches are tested weekly from April though September; lower-use beaches are tested twice a month. All sites are tested twice a month in October and monthly from November through March. Water quality sampling results for all locations are posted on this site along with information about archived swimming advisories. In most cases swimming advisories will not be issued during the non-swimming season from Nov. 1 to March 31.
The Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section have three microbiology laboratories on the coast to meet the needs of the sampling programs and timeframes for testing procedures. One is located in Morehead City at the main office and the other two at field office sites in Wilmington and Nags Head.
The laboratories provide for all analyses required to meet program objectives for the National Shellfish Sanitation Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies BEACH's Act. All three laboratories are certified by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for compliance with NSSP requirements. All laboratory analyses for the bacteriological survey for the shellfish sanitation program are performed in our laboratories. Annually more than 10,000 water samples are tested in each lab. The laboratory is inspected by the United States Food and Drug Administration for compliance with National Shellfish Sanitation Program requirements.
N.C. Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program - Brochure
The Facts: Recreational Water Quality Monitoring in North Carolina - Fact Sheet
Stormwater Drainpipe Signs in North Carolina - Fact Sheet
Avoiding Recreational Water Illnesses - NC Division of Public Health
North Carolina Beach Monitoring Program Quality Assurance Project Plan
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency - Beach Act
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Waterborne Diseases
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Swimming
EPA Makes Grants Available to States to Implement Water Quality Monitoring and Public Notification Programs at the Nation's Beaches
Center for Watershed Protection
N.C. Coastal Federation
Stormwater Manager's Resource Center
N.C. Division of Coastal Management
N.C. Division of Water Resources
N.C. Stormwater and Pollution Runoff Prevention