(Nassawadox, Va.) The Northampton County Health Department has issued a swimming advisory for the Cape Charles Town Beach in Cape Charles Virginia. Beach water samples collected on June 12, 2018 by the Virginia Department of Health showed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the State Water Quality Standards.
Recreational waters are monitored for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococci, the indicator of choice for estuarine and marine waters. “The coastal waters of Virginia are generally very clean, and we test them frequently to confirm this,” said Environmental Health Manager, Jon Richardson. “On the occasions when waters do fail to meet the standards, we need to protect public health by letting residents and visitors know.”
Signs have been posted at the Cape Charles Town Beach alerting the public of the advisory. The sign reads:
Warning! Swimming Advisory
Bacteria Levels Do Not Meet State Water Quality Standards
Swimming Not Recommended Until Further Notice
Health officials will continue testing the site, and they will remove the signs and notify the public again when the bacteria levels decrease to levels that meet the standard. Environmental health officials sample Cape Charles Town Beach on a weekly basis during the swimming season from late May to early September.
Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination of recreational waters. While they do not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that their presence is closely correlated to the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.
“We encourage the public to protect their health by complying with this advisory,” said Richardson. “Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level.”
For additional information on beach advisories, contact the Accomack County Health Department at (757)787-5886, or the Northampton County Health Department at (757) 442-6228. To learn more about the beach water monitoring program in Virginia visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/beach-monitoring/. For more information about recreational water swimming safety visit the website www.swimhealthyva.com.