UPDATE: This advisory has been lifted.
Newport News, Va. The Peninsula Health District has issued a swimming advisory for Hilton Park Beach and Huntington Park Beach in Newport News. Samples collected on August 4th showed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the State Water Quality Standards.
Recreational waters are monitored for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococci, the indicator of choice for estuarine and marine waters.
A sign is posted at the beach alerting the public of the advisory. The sign reads: “Warning swimmers – bacteria levels do not meet state water quality standards, swimming not advised until further notice”.
Additional samples will be collected by health officials on Monday and results should be available on Tuesday. Health officials will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels that meet the State Water Quality Standards.
Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination of recreational waters. While these organisms do not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that their presence is closely correlated to the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.
“We encourage the public to protect their health by complying with this advisory,” said Dr. Nzinga Teule-Hekima, Director of the Peninsula Health District. “Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level.”