Thursday, June 20, 2024

DEQ says don’t swim near Banks Channel, elevated fecal waste levels

The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four swimming alerts at water sampling sites along the sound-side of Banks Channel. Samples collected yesterday indicated fecal bacteria levels that exceed state and federal standards.

The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four swim alerts in Wrightsville Beach along the sound-side of Banks Channel after water samples indicate fecal bacteria levels that exceed state and federal standards. (Port City Daily graphic/Benjamin Schachtman)
The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four swim alerts in Wrightsville Beach along the sound-side of Banks Channel after water samples indicate fecal bacteria levels that exceed state and federal standards. (Port City Daily graphic/Benjamin Schachtman)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH—The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four separate swim alerts in Wrightsville Beach.

Enterococcus, a strain of bacteria used to detect the presence of fecal waste has been detected at high levels along Banks Channel in Wrightsville Beach. A water quality swimming alert has been issued as the DEQ continues collecting water samples.

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The state and federal single-sample standard for Enterococcus is 104 enterococci cells per 100 milliliters for high usage sites. On Monday, water samples collected on the sound-side of Banks Channel exceeded the state and federal standard by more than double.

254 Enterococcus cells were detected in a 100 mL sample near Iula Street, 324 cells were detected near Sunset Boulevard, 150 were detected near Taylor Street and 124 were detected near Snyder Street.

In a release about the spike in bacteria, the Department of Environmental Quality warned about swimming in the alert area.

“While it is not known to cause illness, scientific studies indicate that enterococci may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms,” the release states. “People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.”

If samples collected Tuesday show continued high bacteria counts, the state will post a physical advisory sign in the area and issue an advisory online.

The exact location of the testing sites in Wrightsville Beach with recreational swimming alerts can be observed below:

  • S22B – Banks Channel – Waynick Boulevard, near Iula Street
  • S22G – CAMA Access – Corner of Waynick and Sunset Boulevard
  • S22C – Banks Channel – Waynick Boulevard between Snyder and Seashore Streets
  • S22E – Banks Channel – Waynick Boulevard between Taylor and Bellamy Streets

For more information on the Department of Environmental Quality’s water testing protocol, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program website.

The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four swim alerts in Wrightsville Beach along the sound-side of Banks Channel after water samples indicate fecal bacteria levels that exceed state and federal standards. (Port City Daily graphic/Courtesy Department of Environmental Quality)
The Department of Environmental Quality has issued four swim alerts in Wrightsville Beach along the sound-side of Banks Channel after water samples indicate fecal bacteria levels that exceed state and federal standards. (Port City Daily graphic/Courtesy Department of Environmental Quality)

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