State officials advise against swimming at two public swim areas in Carteret County because bacteria levels in the water at both sites exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
Officials posted advisories Friday at a public swimming area at the west end of the North River Bridge off U.S. 70 near Otway and a public access to Bogue Sound at 16th Street in Morehead City.
These advisories are not a beach closing, nor do the advisories affect the entire Morehead City and North River areas. Swimming advisories are for waters within 200 feet of the sign, officials said.
At the North River site, test results of water samples from Wednesday and Thursday indicate bacteria levels exceed the state and federal action levels of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for the Tier 2 nondaily use sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.
The public access to Bogue Sound in Morehead City, test results indicate a running monthly average of 62 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 public access to Bogue Sound in Morehead City is described as “Morehead City – Drain Pipe at 16th street” in the Recreational Water Quality Sampling Locations list.
Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it does not 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 action level have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws. Testing will continue at the sites, and officials will remove the signs and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
State 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 the waters are colder.