VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A swimming advisory was issued for a section of beaches at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
For the first time in about a year, testing indicated that bacteria levels between 70th and 83rd Streets do not meet state water quality standards. Swimming and wading were prohibited at these areas.
On Thursday the advisory was lifted. Re-sampling showed that the bacteria level in the water was once again safe for swimming and wading, the advisories were lifted and signs at both locations that had previously alerted the public of the advisory have now been removed.
Virginia Beach has conducted these tests since the mid-1970s. Health officials will continue testing the site until results meet the state water quality standards. When the sampling test results meet Virginia’s standards – typically after 24 hours – the signs will be removed.
Recreational waters are monitored weekly for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococcus, the indicator of choice in estuarine and marine waters. Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of the fecal contamination of recreational waters. While they 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, as well as skin, eye and respiratory infections.
It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what causes each case of high bacteria levels, however, waste from wildlife, domestic pets, storm and agricultural runoff, breaks in wastewater pipes and boat discharge can all contribute to higher levels. Heavy rain often contributes to higher bacteria levels as well.
To view the results of this and all other sampling as well as tips for protecting your health while swimming at the beach, click here.