MOREHEAD CITY – State recreational water quality officials said Wednesday that swimmers should avoid certain Cape Hatteras National Seashore ocean swimming areas where septic system failures are possible as a result of a lingering coastal storm system.
Extreme high tides accompanying the low-pressure system that continued to affect the Outer Banks Wednesday may have inundated septic system drain fields or caused sewage line breaks at homes in certain areas, officials said. The public should avoid swimming in waters near exposed pipes and should be particularly cautious in the following areas:
- Rodanthe – ocean waters near Beacon Road, along GA Kohler Court, and near Ocean Drive.
- Buxton – ocean waters along Tower Circle.
Officials said that while they do not have laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the water, there is an increased chance that contamination is present in the areas identified and that those swimming have an increased chance of adverse health effects. Wastewater exposure can cause adverse health effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and skin infections, the public is advised to avoid bodily contact with these waters.
Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in these waters until tidal conditions subside and bacteriological testing indicates sample results within state and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Testing will begin as soon as the area is accessible, state officials said, and test results will be announced as they become available.
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 waters are colder.
For more information on the Recreational Water Quality Program, which is part of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Marine Fisheries, or to a view a map of testing sites, visit the program’s website, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.