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Have there been any recent studies on bacteria levels in Castle Hayne at the river? Is it safe to swim there?

Gareth McGrath
StarNews
Riverside Park signs

Warning signs at Castle Hayne's Riverside Park. (Photo by GARETH MCGRATH/STARNEWS)

There haven’t been any recent bacteria studies by the University of North Carolina Wilmington or state or county health agencies at Castle Hayne’s Riverside Park.

But New Hanover County officials are continuing to do water quality testing at the county park along the Northeast Cape Fear River, and recent results have mostly been within federal and state safe standards, said Shawn Ralston, the county’s senior environmental planner.

However, the bacteria woes that emerged several years ago were from contamination in the sediment that gets kicked back up into the water column when people swim or simply wade into the river.

But Ralston said there’s little the county can do to fix that problem since even removing the sediment would only be a temporary fix because the river is constantly washing new sediment downstream.

Technically, the “beach” at the county park isn’t a swimming beach — although it has been a popular watering hole for decades.

Still, swimming there isn’t condoned by the county.

Signs warning about the health risk of water contact due to the elevated bacteria levels have been posted, in English and Spanish, since 2008.

“We are discouraging swimming by putting the signs up,” Ralston said.

User-contributed question by:
Susan Weaver

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