Swimming Advisory Issued for Sandbridge Beach between Chubb Lane and Porters Island Road
Recent testing indicates that bacteria levels within a section of Sandbridge Beach in southern Virginia Beach do not meet state water quality standards. Swimming and wading are prohibited between Chubb Lane and Porters Island 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 The advisory will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to safe levels."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 vdh.virginia.gov/waterborne-hazards-control/swimming-advisories-and-monitored-beaches-map/.
# # #