State says most Dare County beaches now safe to swim after bacteria concerns

Published: Jul. 25, 2018 at 1:21 PM EDT
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State officials have lifted most of the swimming advisories for Dare County that were enacted Wednesday.

Test results from Hatteras Inlet to Southern Shores found that bacteria levels for most waters have dropped to acceptable levels.

There are some locations where levels remain high and people are being told not to swim.


• Public beach access at East Blackman Street, Nags Head

• Public access 380 yards southeast of Conch Street, Nags Head

• Public access at Nags Head Bath House at mile post 15, Nags Head


• Jockey’s Ridge public access, Nags Head

• Colington Harbour at the end of Colington Drive, Kill Devil Hills

The state enacted the advisory after heavy rains earlier this week caused some towns to pump flood waters into the ocean, causing higher than normal bacteria levels.

Signs now have been posted in those five remaining locations, warning people against swimming.

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State officials are telling vacationers and others on the Outer Banks to stay out of the water.

North Carolina Marine Fisheries this afternoon issued a swimming advisory for all of Dare and Currituck counties because of high amounts of rain and flooding.

Officials fear that flooding may lead to excessive bacteria in the coastal waters.

On Tuesday, Kitty Hawk began pumping floodwater into the ocean, while today they were joined by communities from Nags Head to Corolla.

Town officials from Nags Head say they have not pumped any floodwaters into the ocean.

"Waters impacted by these storms can contain elevated levels of bacteria that can make people sick," said J.D. Potts, manager of the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program. "Floodwaters and stormwater runoff can contain pollutants such as waste from septic systems, sewer line breaks, wildlife, petroleum products and other chemicals."

The state says people should avoid swimming in these two counties until bacteriological tests show it is safe to do so. Tests are being done once roads are passable and 24 hours after stormwater pumping has ceased, according to a news release.

Dare County estimates between 250,000 and 300,000 people are visiting their county right now, while Currituck County estimates their visitors at between 20,000 and 30,000.