An advisory against swimming was posted today at a sound-side site in Dare County, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory is for Sandy Bay sound-side access along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in Frisco. Test results of water samples taken on Oct 5 and Oct 6 indicate bacteria levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 2 non-daily use sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.
Two additional areas were under observation because initial water quality testing showed the sites exceeded the safe swimming standard. Resample results now show that bacteria levels now meet the state’s and EPA’s standards set for swimming and water play. These areas are:
- Salvo day use sound-side access across from ramp #23 in Salvo; and
- Ocean access at north end of Seagull Street in Rodanthe.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws. Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it does not cause illness, scientific studies show that enterococci may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the action level have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
This advisory at Sandy Bay is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory include the entire Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign. The sign posted reads as follows:
SWIMMING IN THIS AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED. BACTERIA TESTING INDICATES
LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION THAT MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR
HEALTH. THIS ADVISORY AFFECTS WATERS WITHIN 200’ OF THIS SIGN.
OFFICE OF THE STATE HEALTH DIRECTOR
State officials will continue testing the site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
State recreational water quality officials sample 215 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.
For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program or to a view a map of testing sites, visit the program’s website, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.