Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Warning swimmers: High levels of bacteria found in waters off Yorktown Beach

Signs posted on Yorktown Beach warn against swimming in the York River. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)
Signs posted on Yorktown Beach warn against swimming in the York River. (Bryan DeVasher/WYDaily)

Health officials released a swimming advisory Wednesday for Yorktown Beach after water tests showed elevated bacteria levels in the water.

In addition to Yorktown Beach, the Peninsula Health District also issued an advisory for Hilton Park Beach in Newport News.

Bacteria levels at both beaches exceed the state water quality standards.

Signs have been posted at the beaches alerting the public of the advisory, the department said. The signs read “Warning swimmers — bacteria levels do not meet state water quality standards, swimming not advised until further notice.”

Throughout the summer season, the health department monitors recreational waters for various “indicator organisms,” including enterococci, a group of organisms that determine the amount of fecal contamination in the water.

Enterococci do not cause illness, but scientific studies suggest their presence in water is closely correlated to the presence of other disease-causing organisms.

Those who swim in contaminated was may be at risk of gastrointestinal illness, the health department said.

“We encourage the public to protect their health by complying with this advisory,” said Dr. S. William Berg, the director for the Peninsula Health District. “Typically, an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to a safe level.”

More samples were collected by health officials on Wednesday. Results should be available Thursday.

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