Update Aug. 10: The advisory was lifted Wednesday after water testing showed that bacteria levels had dropped below the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards set for swimming and water play. Original report follows below.
State recreational water quality officials on Thursday issued an advisory against swimming at an oceanside site in Dare County, where bacteria levels in the water were found to exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
The advisory is for an area at the public beach access at ramp No. 55 off Museum Drive in Hatteras. Test results of water samples indicate a running monthly average of 47 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.
A sign is to be posted Friday at the site.
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 Hatteras area. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign.
State officials said they 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.
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.