N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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Release: ImmediateContact: Erin Bryan-Millush / J.D. Potts
Date: Aug. 12, 2015 Phone: 252-726-6827 exts. 8153 / 8154
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Water quality swimming advisory issued for sound-side site in Dare County

MOREHEAD CITY – An advisory against swimming was posted today at a sound-side site in Dare County, where state recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

The advisory affects the swimming area at the Jockey’s Ridge sound-side access in Nags Head. Test results indicate a running monthly average of 56 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 name for the group of bacteria used for testing, is found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While the bacteria group’s presence does not cause illness itself, scientific studies indicate that the presence of enterococci is closely correlated to the presence of other organisms that may cause illness. 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 affect water within 200 feet of the sign. The sign posted reads as follows:

ATTENTION
SWIMMING IN THIS AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED. BACTERIA TESTING INDICATES
LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION THAT MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR
HEALTH. THIS ADVISORY AFFECTS WATERS WITHIN 200’ OF THIS SIGN.
OFFICE OF THE STATE HEALTH DIRECTOR

State officials will continue testing the site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.

Recreational water quality officials sample 204 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 N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-water-quality or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.

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