NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Advisories against swimming were posted on Friday at five locations in New Hanover County, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
State officials believe that stormwater runoff from recent heavy rainfall contributed to the high bacteria counts.
Signs advising the public against swimming and water play were posted at the following areas:
Banks Channel off Waynick Boulevard in Wrightsville Beach:
Public sound-side access between Snyder and Seashore streets
Public sound-side access between Taylor and Bellamy streets
Public sound-side access approximately 150 yards north of Iula Street
Public sound-side access at the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Sunset Avenue
Carolina Beach State Park at the end of State Park Road near the mouth of Snows Cut
Water samples taken on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 indicate levels that exceed the running monthly average of 35 enterococci per 100 milliliters, based on five samples taken within a 30-day period.
Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it is not known to 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 standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
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 these sites, and they will remove the signs and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
Recreational water quality officials sample 213 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 fewer people are in the water.