State recreational water quality officials alerted the public on Tuesday that initial testing at an ocean-side site near the Cape Hatteras lighthouse showed levels of bacteria exceeding the state’s and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards.
The alert is for waters at the public beach access at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton. Test results of water samples collected on Monday show bacteria levels of 124 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. (Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.)
This alert is not a beach closing, nor is the alert for the entire Hatteras Island area.
State officials will test the site again today, 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.
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws.
State 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.