By Linda Cicoira — Swimming is not being recommended until further notice at Kiptopeke State Park beach near Cape Charles, according to the Northampton County Health Department.
Water samples collected July 1 showed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the State Water Quality Standards.
“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 Kiptopeke State Park Beach alerting the public of the advisory.
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.
Samples are taken from the beach weekly from May to 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 a 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 “Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level.”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 about beach advisories, contact the Accomack County Health Department at (757)787-5886. 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 swimming and safety visit the website www.swimhealthyva.com