More swimming advisories could be posted for two Newport News beaches

Posted at 9:25 PM, Jun 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-19 21:25:01-04

Newport News, Va. - Huntington Beach is a place a lot people like to go to take a dip to cool down from the heat.

"We're probably at a beach three or four times a week," said Vanessa Young, who visits Huntington Beach often.

But this summer, people may be advised to stay out of the water more than usual at two area beaches.

The Virginia Department of Health will ramp up its beach monitoring program to test bacteria levels in the water. It's all being done to one day predict bacteria levels before they go up, especially at Huntington Beach, since swimming advisories are posted often.

"We usually look before we come, either online or we hear it through the TV, but when we do, we don't come," said Young.

The Peninsula Health District typically tests the water for bacteria levels once a week.  But this summer, officials will test the water four times a week, at Huntington Beach and Hilton Beach.

It's being done through a partnership with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Norfolk Department of Public Health, to improve the understanding of environmental patterns in the water that may lead to high bacteria levels.

"Particularly a heavy rain, the sample results will go up," said Gary Hagy, Environmental Health Manager for the Peninsula Health District.

Hagy says more swimming advisories could be posted for the beaches since they will be testing the water more days than usual.  However, it doesn't mean the water quality is any worse than it's been before.

"The goal is if we find an association that maybe we can use the environmental factors such as rainfall, wind direction, wind speed, salinity of the water to help predict when we may have high bacteria levels in the water," said Hagy.

"I think we'd rather be safe than sorry.  So if they're going to do that, at least we know that when we do come, that the kids are fine, and we don't have to worry about anything," said Young.

The Peninsula Health District says the project will take place at least through Labor Day.