2008 NC State Contaminated Waters List
The 2008 list of "impaired" (I like this word?!) waters of North Carolina has been released. The study is completed every two years as part of the EPA Clean Water Act. The 2008 draft report (see B. Draft 2008 303(d) List, pg 55-60) includes a number of OBX recreational water areas. Some I am aware of, but others, I found rather disturbing, especially on the ocean side. I guess there is always going to be pollution out there, but it is quite disconcerting when I find places where we regularly windsurf/surf/swim. People worry about everything in the ocean from rip currents and heavy surf to shark bites, but now bacteria infection too?!
(Some good news though is that a number of the water recreation spots on Pamlico Sound have been delisted this year (see pages 38, 39). Including areas around Canadian Hole in Avon.)
In 2004 I caught a nasty infection from a small shin scrape while learning to kiteboard at Windmill Pt in Nags Head. It was August of that year, and the infection turned into cellulitis. The pain was much worse then either of the two times I broke my leg. Luckily, I had it treated when I did or I risked amputation below the knee if the infection migrated to the bone.
There definitely can be some nasty stuff in the waters off the OBX, especially around areas where extensive land development exists. Most of these areas treat waste water via septic systems. 20 years ago, that was fine given the limited development/population concentration; however with the rapid growth in recent years, septic may not be the best solution to protect our sound/ocean waters. Peak usage during summer months, when tourism multiplies local population, and excessively high sound water temperatures could help foster the high bacteria counts. I rarely enter the sound during the summer in Nags Head, especially in August since my cellulitis infection; however seeing that the ocean coastal waters are also rather "impaired" definitely impacts the thought of a cut or scrape while out being tumbled out in the soup!