August 3, 2022

UPDATE: Swimming Advisory Along the Bay from Starfish Road to Rockbridge Road Has Been Lifted

The Virginia Beach Health Department has lifted the swimming and wading advisory issued yesterday, Wednesday, Aug. 3 for a section of the Chesapeake Bay between Starfish Road and Rockbridge Road.

Re-sampling and testing of water from the area showed that the bacteria level is once again safe for swimming and wading. The advisory was lifted and signs that had previously alerted the public of the advisory have now been removed.

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Original Release: Swimming Advisory Issued Along the Bay from Starfish Road to Rockbridge Road

Recent testing indicates that bacteria levels along a section of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach do not meet state water quality standards. Swimming and wading are prohibited between Starfish Road and Rockbridge Road until further notice. Signs will be posted on the beach in the affected areas to alert the public of the swimming and wading advisory.

Virginia Beach has conducted these tests since the mid-1970s. Health officials will continue testing the site until results meet the state water quality standards. When the sampling test results meet Virginia's standards – typically after 24 hours – the signs will be removed.

Recreational waters are monitored weekly for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococcus, the indicator of choice in estuarine and marine waters. Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of the 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, as well as skin, eye and respiratory infections.

It is impossible to pinpoint exactly what causes each case of high bacteria levels, however, waste from wildlife, domestic pets, storm and agricultural runoff, breaks in wastewater pipes and boat discharge can all contribute to higher levels. Heavy rain often contributes to higher bacteria levels as well.

"We encourage residents and visitors to protect their health by complying with this advisory," said Brad DeLashmutt, Environmental Health Supervisor with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health. "These advisories are typically temporary and can be caused by any warm-blooded animal – from birds congregating on the beach to owners failing to clean up after their dog. The advisory will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to safe levels."

To view the results of this and all other sampling as well as tips for protecting your health while swimming at the beach, visit the VDH website.

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