State recreational water quality officials today are alerting the public that initial testing at four sound-side sites in New Hanover County showed levels of bacteria exceeding the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.
The alerts are for waters in Banks Channel off Waynick Boulevard in Wrightsville Beach at the following public access sites:
• Between Snyder and Seashore streets
• Between Taylor and Bellamy streets
• Approximately 150 yards north of Iula Street
• At the corner of Waynick Boulevard and Sunset Avenue
Tests of water samples collected yesterday show bacteria levels 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 is not known to 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 209 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.