Water quality swimming notifications issued for two sound-side sites in Pamlico County

MOREHEAD CITY

One swimming advisory and one alert were issued today at sound-side sites in Pamlico County.

State recreational water quality officials found bacteria levels in the water at these sites that exceed the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality standards.

Both notifications were for areas along Dawson Creek in Janerio. The advisory was posted at the public access on the south side of Dawson Creek Bridge, and the alert was issued at the public access 500 yards north of Dawson Creek Bridge. Test results of water samples collected yesterday at these sites indicate bacteria levels that exceed the state and federal action levels of 276 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 2 low-usage sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.

Enterococci, the name for the group of bacteria used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While the bacteria group’s presence does not cause illness itself, scientific studies indicate that the presence of enterococci is closely correlated to the presence of other organisms that may cause illness. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

State officials posted a sign at the site under advisory to notify the public of the risks of swimming in this area. The advisory is not a beach closing, nor does the advisory affect the entire Dawson Creek 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.

A sign was not posted at the site under a swimming alert, but public notification is required. State officials will test this site again today, and the results of the sampling will dictate further action. If the new sample also shows elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory. 

State recreational water quality officials sample 210 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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