State officials Thursday posted an advisory against swimming at a riverside site in Beaufort County.
The advisory is for the public access to Pamlico River at Havens Gardens Park off Park Drive in Washington. There, state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
Test results of water samples taken Tuesday and Wednesday indicate bacteria levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 2 non-daily use sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws. 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.
This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Pamlico River. 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.
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.