Advisories against swimming were posted today at two sound-side sites in Carteret County, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
One advisory affects water at the public swimming area at the west end of North River Bridge off U.S. 70 near Otway, where test results of water samples taken on July 5 and July 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.
The other advisory is for an area at the public access to Bogue Sound at 16th Street in Morehead City. Test results of water samples indicate a running monthly average of 62 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water. This exceeds the state and federal standards of a running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters, based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.
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.
These advisories are not a beach closing, nor do the advisories affect the entire Morehead City and North River areas. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign. The signs posted read 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 sites, and they will remove the signs 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.