Bacteria warnings issued for Banks Channel, Wrightsville Beach locations

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After testing for elevated bacteria levels, North Carolina environmental officials issued swimming warnings for eight Wrightsville Beach locations and five other New Hanover County locations. The warnings come after high tides and increased stormwater runoff from heavy rains, as the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality said that swimming in these areas can increase risks of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.   

State environmental officials issued four swimming advisories for Banks Channel and Wrightsville Beach, posting signs warning against public swimming in those areas. Advisories mean that the bacteria levels tested in the water exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.

  • Banks Channel off Waynick Boulevard in Wrightsville Beach
  • Ocean pier at Nathan Street and Lumina Drive in Wrightsville Beach
  • Stone Street public access in Wrightsville Beach
  • North end of Wrightsville Beach at the public access #2 of Lumina Drive

The department also issued four swimming alerts for areas on the Wrightsville Beach strand. Alerts mean that officials will conduct a second test to determine whether an alert needs to be issued.

  • Public access between Snyder and Seashore streets
  • Public access between Taylor and Bellamy streets
  • Public access approximately 150 yards north of Iula Street
  • Public beach access at the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Sunset Avenue

The department also issued alerts for these New Hanover County beach areas:

  • Public access at Avenue F in Kure Beach
  • Public access at Avenue H in Kure Beach
  • Ocean pier at Avenue K in Kure Beach
  • Public access at the Hanby Beach storm drain in Hanby Beach
  • Public beach access at Hemlet Avenue in Carolina Beach

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries conducts regular tests for enterococci bacteria, which though while not dangerous to humans itself, it can indicate the presence of other bacteria that is more harmful to humans. The tests at the Banks Channel locations measured 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters, exceeding federal and state standards for high-usage swimming sites.

The department said more tests would be testing the sites again today.

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