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June 18
Wake Makes Changes in Recreational Water Testing Program

Wake County has adopted new regulations for recreational waters based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revised Water Quality Criteria and Guidelines. Wake County Environmental Services tests the water in recreational beach areas as summer outdoor activity increases.

In addition to the new regulations, the County is installing new signs to communicate health risks associated with primary contact water activities:

Color Action and Meaning
Green Beach area OPEN – No advisory; bacteria is below exceedance thresholds.
Yellow Beach area OPEN – Caution, recent test results indicate elevated levels of bacteria; enter water at your own risk. Advisory will remain in place until bacteria levels no longer exceed the standard.
Red Beach area CLOSED – Known public health nuisance; conditions exist for elevated health risks. Body contact with water is not allowed. Beach will remain closed the nuisance is abated.

Other changes include:

  • Revised standards based on EPA's most recent guidelines
  • Use of pre-emptive advisories, such as "Rain Advisories" to inform public of increased health risks;
  • County will maintain existing authority under State law to close recreational waters and beaches when a public health nuisance exists;
  • Enhance public education and outreach

During the summer season (late May–Labor Day weekend) Wake County samples fresh water bodies at public beaches and some private camps for E. coli and enterococci bacteria in order to inform swimmers and others regarding bacteria levels in recreational water. These bacteria are capable of causing human illness.

The County monitors nine recreational beaches:

  • Beaverdam at Falls Lake
  • Camp Kanata
  • Falls Lake
  • Holly Point at Falls Lake
  • Sandling Beach at Falls Lake
  • Lake Wheeler
  • New Life Camp

The new EPA criteria reflect the latest scientific knowledge, public comments and external peer review and have served as a push for the County to revise its standards and protocols. Through a stakeholders' process, Environmental Services staff evaluated the County's program and developed recommendations to align the program with current EPA guidelines and best management practices.

Information regarding beach advisories and closures will be posted on the Wake County Recreational Waters website. Email beaches@wakegov.com for more information.





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