UPDATE: 7:15 a.m. Thursday
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources have lifted the water quality swimming alert issued Tuesday for Banks Channel in Wrightsville Beach.
State recreational water quality officials are alerting the public that initial testing at a sound-side site in New Hanover County showed levels of bacteria exceeding the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.
According to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (NCDENR), the alert affects waters in Banks Channel at the swimming beach south of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Wrightsville Beach.
State officials planned to test the site again, and the results of the sampling will dictate further action. If the new samples also show elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.
Samples collected May 11 show test results of 429 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, which exceeds the state and federal single-sample standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high usage sites, according to DENR.
Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are 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 standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.
To find out more about North Carolina’s beach water quality, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program website or on Twitter.com @ncrecprgm.