N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program
The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program began testing coastal waters in 1997. Our mission is to protect the public health by monitoring the quality of N.C.'s coastal recreational waters and notifying the public when bacteriological standards for safe bodily contact are exceeded. The coastal waters monitored include the ocean beaches, sounds, bays and estuarine rivers.
We test for enterococcus bacteria, an indicator organism found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it will not cause illness itself, its presence is correlated with that of organisms that can cause illness.
The program tests 240 swimming sites, most of them on a weekly basis during the swimming season, which runs from April 1 to Oct. 31. All ocean beaches and high-use sound-side beaches are tested weekly from April though September; lower-use beaches are tested twice a month. All sites are tested twice a month in October and monthly from November through March. Water quality sampling results for all locations are posted on this site along with information about archived swimming advisories. In most cases swimming advisories will not be issued during the non-swimming season from Nov. 1 to March 31.