MOREHEAD CITY — An advisory against swimming was posted Wednesday at a soundside site in Carteret County, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
State recreational water quality officials also lifted a water quality swimming alert Wednesday at a Carteret County oceanside site.
The swimming advisory is posted at the public access area at the north side mouth of Town Creek in Beaufort. Test results of water samples from the site show a running monthly average of 44 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 advisory in Beaufort is not a beach closing and it does not pertain to the entire area, but water within 200 feet of the posted sign. The sign reads, “Attention, 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 feet of this sign.”
State officials will continue testing the site and will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
Meanwhile, the lifted alert was for waters at public beach on Wyndtree Drive, just west of the junction of Coast Guard Road and Wyndtree Drive in Emerald Isle. Tests of water samples taken from the site June 22 showed bacteria levels that exceeded the single-sample maximum standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water for a Tier 1 high-usage site. Subsequent testing of samples collected June 23 showed the bacteria level at 1 enterococcus per 100 milliliters, well below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play.
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 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.
Recreational water quality officials sample 210 sites throughout the coastal region, most of them on a weekly basis, from April to October.
For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website, portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-water-quality, view a map of the testing sites portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/testing-sites and follow the program’s Twitter feed at twitter.com/NCRecPrgm.