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Report: NC beach waters seventh-cleanest in US

Posted June 29, 2011

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— North Carolina beaches had the seventh-cleanest waters in the U.S. last year, when beach closings and health advisories across the country leaped to their second-highest level in more than two decades, according to an annual report from an environmental advocacy group released Wednesday.

The National Resources Defense Council measured how often water samples at beaches taken by state agencies had bacteria levels higher than state or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health standards. Study predicts dramatic beach changes NRDC report on NC beach water quality

Four percent of the samples taken from 240 beaches stretching along 320 miles of the North Carolina coast exceeded bacteria safety standards, according to the NRDC report. Stormwater runoff and wildlife waste contributed to the contamination a majority of the time.

Two Dare County beaches had the highest rate of contaminated water samples: the sound side of Jockey's Ridge, at 22 percent, and Colington Harbour Swimming Beach, at 17 percent.

Those levels prompted beach closings or advisories for 84 days at both beaches, according to the report.

Nationally, contaminated water prompted 24,091 days of beach closings or advisories, up 29 percent from a year earlier. The NRDC attributed that rise to the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, while bacteria caused by stormwater runoff remained a large factor.

The Great Lakes region had the most days with contaminated water, at 15 percent. Water along the Southeast, New York-New Jersey and Delmarva regions had the fewest contaminated days, at 4, 5 and 6 percent respectively.

Among states, the highest rates were in Louisiana (37 percent), Ohio (21 percent) and Indiana (16 percent), while the lowest rates were in New Hampshire (1 percent), New Jersey (2 percent), Oregon (3 percent) and Hawaii and Delaware (both at 3 percent).

The NRDC gave special recognition to four beaches for having perfect testing results for three years and meeting other criteria: Rehoboth and Dewey beaches in Delaware, Park Point Lafayette Community Club Beach in Minnesota and Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire.

Ten beaches were noted as "repeat offenders" for having water samples that exceeded health standards more than 25 percent of the time between 2006 and 2010. Those beaches included three in California, two in Wisconsin and one each in Florida, Illinois and New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

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  • bigal02282 Jun 29, 2011

    Not for long............. our legislators are working on a new number, one to match edumacation, #49. Spill baby Spill.

  • chanchan Jun 29, 2011

    "...NJ had cleaner water than NC?" -dcmorea what an outrage!

    Still, NC is up there. We ought to be proud of it. I believe we have the prettiest beaches but all those Yankees claim the the Hamptons can't be beat...

  • itom68 Jun 29, 2011

    its because they are all here

  • edgar709 Jun 29, 2011

    Quoting the movie Talladega Night "If you're not #1, you're last"

  • lawha63 Jun 29, 2011

    I was at Wrightsville last weekend. Despite the fact that the beach was the most crowded that I have ever seen it, the beach looked great. Thanks to the beach goers for cleaning up after themselves and to the workers at Wrightsville for doing a great job of keeping the beach and town looking good!

  • dcmorea Jun 29, 2011

    NY and NJ had cleaner water than NC?

  • wdprice3 Jun 29, 2011

    solve the stormwater problems: http://www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/kure-beach/

  • onyourheels2 Jun 29, 2011

    evidently the water from falls lake hadn't reached the ocean when they did the test.