Federal cuts mean the state will stop monitoring water quality at several dozen swimming sites along coastal rivers and sounds in the coming year. The Environmental Protection Agency cut $22,000 from a grant for the testing.
The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries uses a combination of state and federal funds to test 240 swimming areas for certain bacteria.
Director Louis Daniel says the division has notified county heath and summer camp directors that it will stop testing water quality at 41 swimming areas in coastal rivers and sounds.
“You know, as soon as the funding is restored, which, we expect it to happen, then those sites will be picked back up again,” Daniel says. “But we had to maximize our effort where we had the most swimming.”
Daniel says the program tests for bacteria that is associated with diarrhea, vomiting, rashes and infections in humans and posts results at each site.
“You will consume some water when you're swimming. I mean, not purposefully, in salt water, but I mean you will get it in your mouth, and that type of thing. And it will get in cuts,” Daniel says, adding that the 41 testing sites being eliminated are the least popular swimming locations.
“Those areas, you can still go swimming there,” he says. “But we're not going to be able to test those waters to make certain that they're safe.”
Daniel says the state will perform tests at a site if the public cites a specific problem or concern.
The Division of Marine Fisheries' Recreational Water Quality Program can be reached at 252-726-7021 and 800-682-2632.