Advisories against swimming were posted Wednesday at two ocean-side sites in Dare County, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.
Both advisories affect public beach accesses at bathhouses, one on Ocean Bay Boulevard in Kill Devil Hills and the other at mile marker 15 off South Virginia Dare Trail in Nags Head.
Test results taken on July 24 indicate levels that exceed the state and federal action levels 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.
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 action level have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
State officials will continue testing the site, and remove the sign to notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards.
State recreational water quality officials sample 240 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.