State officials, citing bacteria, tell public not to swim in OBX waters

Nags Head Tourists

Tourists enjoy a calm ocean in Nags Head, N.C.(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WNCT) — State officials are warning visitors and residents in the Outer Banks to stay out of the water.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a release Wednesday afternoon, saying the public should “avoid swimming in coastal waters in and around Dare and Currituck counties due to high rainfall and flooding from recent storms that may lead to excessive bacteria in the water.”

Current Swimming Advisories | Beach Safety

Heavy rains caused the towns of Kitty Hawk and Corolla to pump flood waters 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.” 

Officials said it it is not possible to post signs in all areas because the impacts are widespread.

According to the release, people should avoid swimming in coastal waters in and around Dare and Currituck counties until bacteriological testing indicates bacteria levels fall within the state’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

State officials will begin resampling these locations when roads are passable and 24 hours after storm water pumping has ceased. 

The precautionary advisory will be lifted in part or in whole as test results become available.

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