State environmental officials issue water quality alerts for two Wrightsville Beach sites

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State environmental officials issued two water quality alerts for Wrightsville Beach on Tuesday for Banks Channel locations off Waynick Boulevard. The alerts are for the public access between Snyder and Seashore Street and the public access between Taylor and Bellamy Streets. See the full North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality statement for more information:

State recreational water quality officials today are alerting the public that initial testing at two sound-side sites in New Hanover County showed levels of bacteria exceeding the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.

Both alerts affect waters in Banks Channel off Waynick Boulevard in Wrightsville Beach. The first was issued at the public access between Snyder and Seashore Street and the other at the public access between Taylor and Bellamy Streets.  Samples collected yesterday show test results that exceed 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 as tiers.

State officials will test the sites again today, and the results of the sampling will dictate further action. If the new samples also show elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.  

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, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it does not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that enterococci may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

State 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 the waters are colder.

To find out more about North Carolina’s beach water quality, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/recreational-water-quality or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.”

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