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Water quality swimming advisory issued for ocean-side site in Brunswick County

MOREHEAD CITY

An advisory against swimming was posted today at an ocean-side site in Brunswick County, where state officials found bacteria levels in the water that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards. 

The advisory is for the Middleton public access off East Beach Drive in Oak Island. Tests of water samples taken at the site yesterday 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, is 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. 

This advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Oak Island area. Swimming advisories affect water within 200 feet of the sign. The sign posted reads as follows:

ATTENTION
SWIMMING IN THIS AREA IS NOT RECOMMENDED. BACTERIA TESTING INDICATES 
LEVELS OF CONTAMINATION THAT MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR
HEALTH. THIS ADVISORY AFFECTS WATERS WITHIN 200’ OF THIS SIGN.
OFFICE OF THE STATE HEALTH DIRECTOR

State officials will continue testing the site, and they will remove the sign and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels below the standards. 

State recreational water quality officials sample 209 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. 

For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website, view a map of the testing sites, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.

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