This morning as the mercury soared toward the 100 degree mark, I found myself thinking about North Carolina’s beaches and wishing I was at the coast like my lucky co-worker who’s spending the week at Ocean Isle. So when I came across the annual report release this week by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on beach water quality, I quickly flipped through to the section about North Carolina.
Here’s what I learned:
- North Carolina has 241 public coastal beaches stretching 415 miles along the Atlantic waters of the barrier islands. 38% (92 beaches) are on the ocean side.
- Seventeen counties have marine coastline, and all have at least one beach that is monitored.
- The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) has been monitoring beach water quality since 1997.
- The state spends approximately $240,000 annually to monitor beaches weekly April through October.
- Only 2% of the water samples taken from ocean beaches exceeded water safety standards (versus beaches in other parts of the country that had 50%-60% of samples exceed safe standards).
Based on its findings, NRDC announces the best and worst beaches for protecting beachgoers from contaminated waters. This year, North Carolina had 2 beach communities named among the top 13 “beach buddies”: Kure Beach and Kill Devil Hills Beach. Communities who were named as “beach buddies” monitored beach water quality regularly, violated public health standards less than 10 percent of the time, and took significant steps to reduce pollution.
We’re lucky. North Carolina has fantastic natural resources. Let’s show our appreciation for them by keeping up efforts to fight pollution and conserve open spaces.