Swimming advisory for Festival Beach lifted

- Posted on Jul 02, 2010 - 11:23 AM

The Three Rivers Health District has lifted a swimming advisory that had been in place at Festival Beach in Mathews County. Recent testing conducted by the Virginia Department of Health showed that bacteria levels in the water meet state water quality standards.

The beach is located at the end of State Route 643 (Haven Beach Road) in Diggs.

Recreational waters are monitored for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococci, the indicator of choice for salt water.  “The coastal waters of Virginia are generally very clean, and we test them frequently to confirm this,” said Thomas Irungu MD, MPH, District Director. “On the occasions when waters do fail to meet the standards, we need to protect public health by letting residents and visitors know.”

Signs have been removed at Festival Beach previously alerting the public of the advisory. Environmental health officials sample Festival Beach on a weekly basis during the swimming season from May through September.

Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination of recreational waters. While they 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 standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.

For more information on beaches, contact the Three Rivers Health District at 693-6130 or  visit the VDH website at www.vdh.virginia.gov.