The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality officials issued a release on July 25 advising the public to 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. Yesterday, heavy rains have caused flooding of streets, yards and housing that resulted in the Town of Kitty Hawk pumping floodwater into the ocean and as of today, additional towns and communities from Nags Head to Corolla are also pumping floodwaters to 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.”
Since the impacts are likely widespread, it is not possible to post signs in all areas. The public 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 stormwater pumping has ceased. This precautionary advisory will be lifted in part or in whole as test results become available.
Note: In the wake of this release, The Public Information Officer for the Town of Nags Head, Roberta Thurman, sent an email stating that the town is not pumping any water to the ocean and noting that it has asked the state to correct that assertion.