A swimming advisory issued Tuesday for a small section of beach on Hilton Head Island was lifted Thursday after bacteria levels in the water returned to normal, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
The state health agency issued the advisory Tuesday for a section of beach along Lands End Drive in Sea Pines after bacteria levels exceeded the allowable limit. The advisory, which affected about 400 feet of beach, warned beachgoers not to swallow water and to avoid contact if they had open wounds.
But the advisory also said it was safe to wade, fish or collect shells in the water.
A sample of the enterococcus bacteria from the beach taken Tuesday was measured at 520 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 milliliters, above the allowable limit of 500 CFU. The bacteria is used as an indicator for the possible presence of other bacteria that could cause viruses and diseases, DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said.
Enterococcus bacteria is a type of lactic acid bacteria that causes conditions such as urinary tract infections.
The advisory was lifted around 5 p.m. Thursday after the bacteria levels fell back to normal, according to DHEC.
DHEC routinely collects water samples at more than 120 locations along South Carolina's coast. If a measurement exceeds 500 CFU per 100 milliliters or consecutive measurements exceed 104 CFU per 100 milliliters, the agency issues an advisory, Beasley said.
Beasley said heavy rainfall Monday probably caused of the higher bacteria levels. Stormwater pushes pollutants like enterococcus into larger bodies of water, leading to the higher levels.
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- On Hilton Head, Burkes Beach swimming advisory lifted, Aug. 31, 2012