State recreational water quality officials are advising the public to avoid swimming in all coastal waters of North Carolina following Hurricane Dorian, according to a press release from N.C. Marine Fisheries.
“Severe weather events like hurricanes can bring excessive amounts of rain and cause extreme flooding. These conditions increase levels of harmful bacteria in our coastal waters that can cause illness,” Erin Bryan-Millush, manager of the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, is quoted as saying in the release. “The source of bacteria varies from failing septic systems, sewer line breaks, overflowing manholes and wildlife.”
State officials won't have immediate laboratory confirmation about disease-causing organisms are in the water, but there is an increased chance of contamination following the storm, according to the release. Swimming in these waters have an increased chance of adverse health effects.
Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in all coastal waters until testing indicates bacteria levels meet state and federal standards, according to the release. Testing will begin as soon as conditions are safe to do so and areas are accessible. Because waters affected by the storm likely will be widespread, signs will not be posted.
The advisory will be lifted in part or in whole as test results become available.
For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program, visit the program’s website, view a map of the testing sites, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.