NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - The Peninsula Health District issued a swimming advisory for two Newport News beaches after samples showed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the state water quality standard.
Hilton Park Beach and King-Lincoln Park Beach were both impacted and will have signs posted alerting the public of the advisory. The signs read: “Warning swimmers - bacteria levels do not meet state water quality standards, swimming not advised until further notice”.
Recreational waters are monitored for bacteria routinely during the summer swimming season, using indicator organisms such as enterococci, the indicator of choice for estuarine and marine waters.
Additional samples were collected by health officials on Wednesday and results should be available on Thursday. Health officials will remove the signs 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 Mary Wainwright, the acting environmental health manager of the Hampton and Peninsula Health Districts. “Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level.”