Officials insist that visitors to North Carolina beaches can “come on in, the water’s fine” as the saying goes. But a water quality swimming alert, now lifted, for a public access beach in Wrightsville Beach and an earlier swimming advisory at a section of beach along South Carolina’s Grand Strand in North Myrtle Beach are worth closer scrutiny from state and federal environmental officials.
High bacteria levels were the culprits, prompting warnings about swallowing the water and about possible problems with folks exposing open cuts or other wounds to the water.
Officials monitor those bacteria and alert swimmers and casual beach-goers when the levels return to the normal range.
There’s no cause for panic. And there’s no need to alarm people unnecessarily.
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But in North Carolina, environmental regulation has been weakened and the effects of climate change – precipitation levels and changes, temperature changes including hotter and hotter summers over the last 50 years – also are going to have an effect on water quality.
Before they take further action to loosen environmental regulation, lawmakers ought to study for themselves the status of these water quality reports from the coast, to determine if that quality can be put in peril by lax environmental rules. But here’s the simple answer: It can.