UPDATE: The Northampton County Health Department has lifted its swimming advisory of the Kiptopeke State Park Beach after new testing showed that bacteria levels in the water again met state water quality standards.
The Northampton County Health Department has issued a swimming advisory for the Kiptopeke State Park Beach because of high bacteria levels.
The department said in a release that beach water samples collected on July 20 by the Virginia Department of Health showed that bacteria levels in the water at Kiptopeke Beach 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 Kiptopeke State Park Beach alerting the public of the advisories.
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 Kiptopeke State Park 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.
For additional information on beach advisories, contact 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.