UPDATE: The Swimming Advisory previously lifted for Sarah Constance Beach, from First View Street to the Ocean View Fishing Pier, and from 6th View to 11th View Streets, has been lifted
The Norfolk Department of Public Health originally issued a Swimming Advisory for Sarah Constance Beach on Tuesday. It was lifted again on Wednesday, but reissued again on Thursday morning.
Water samples taken Monday revealed enterococci bacteria levels exceed State Water Quality Standards. Since the tests take nearly 24 hours, an advisory wasn’t issued until Tuesday. Samples taken Tuesday indicated that bacteria levels had returned to normal levels, but again, since the results don’t come until a day later, the advisory wasn’t lifted until the following day. And when water samples were taken Wednesday when the beach was back open, they were found to have been below state quality standards yet again.
Because of the turnaround time on the tests, you likely don’t find out about the bacteria levels until it has been that way for an entire day.
The state has been looking into other tests that will produce quicker results, but some of those tests have been proven not to be very accurate.
Norfolk’s health department says it hasn’t happened in at least seven years where they’ve had two high readings so close together.
Health officials will continue testing the beach waters and will remove posted signs and notify the public when the bacteria levels decrease to levels that meet the state standards.
The Environmental Health Division of the Norfolk Department of Public Health samples Ocean View beach water on a weekly basis, during the swimming season, from mid-May through mid-October.
Enterococci bacteria are a group of indicator organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination in recreational waters. While enterococci bacteria 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 state standards have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.