Recreational water quality officials from the North Carolina Department of Energy and Natural Resources alerted the public Tuesday, July 22, that initial testing of the ocean waters around Johnnie Mercer’s Pier showed levels of bacteria exceeding the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.
Officials then lifted the alert Wednesday, July 23, for the waters surrounding Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.
Samples collected Monday, July 21, showed test results of 207 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, which exceeds the state and federal single-sample standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high usage sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to in tiers.
State officials tested the site again on Tuesday and found less than 10 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water. If the new samples had shown elevated bacteria counts, state officials would have posted a swimming advisory sign and issued a swimming advisory.
Wrightsville Beach was recently recognized by the Natural Resources Defense Council as one of an inaugural class of 35 Superstar Beaches for ocean water quality.
To qualify, each location could not exceed the previous national ocean water quality standard by more than 2 percent from 2009-2012, and not exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s new, more stringent Beach Action Value by more than 2 percent in 2013.
Tuesday’s alert was likely linked to stormwater runoff from the heavy rains that hit the Cape Fear region this week with more than 3 inches of rainfall at Wrightsville Beach from Monday, July 21, to Tuesday, July 22.