An advisory against swimming was posted Wednesday at a soundside site in Dare County, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceeded the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory is for an area at the Jockey’s Ridge soundside access in Nags Head, where test results of water samples indicate a running monthly average of 43 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.
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 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.
This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Nags Head area. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign.
State officials said they will continue to test the site and will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
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 fewer people are in the water.
For more information on the North Carolina 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.