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Public warned to stay out of Outer Banks waters over bacteria concerns

Posted at 4:14 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-26 19:05:47-04

DARE COUNTY, NC – Amid a rainy week that brought high rainfall to many vacationing at the Outer Banks, state officials told the public Wednesday to stay out the water over excessive bacteria concerns.

State recreational water quality officials issued a swimming advisory for all of Dare and Currituck counties because heavy rains have caused flooding of streets, yards and housing that resulted in the Town of Kitty Hawk pumping floodwater into the ocean.

On Wednesday, additional towns and communities from Nags Head to Corolla are also pumping floodwaters to the ocean, according to a press release.

“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.”

Since the impacts are likely widespread, it is not possible to post signs in all areas.

The public was warned to 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.

When roads are passable, and 24 hours after stormwater pumping has ceased, state officials will begin resampling these locations. The advisory will be lifted in part or in whole as test results become available.

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, WITN reported.

State recreational water quality 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. For more information about coastal recreational water quality, visit the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program’s website.