Another storm impact: State warns of contamination in waters off Rodanthe and Buxton

By on May 11, 2022

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

The lingering stormy weather that has closed schools and roads on Hatteras Island this week may now have created an additional problem. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued a release on May 11 warning of potential contamination of ocean waters along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) – and it is citing the ocean waters off Rodanthe and Buxton as particular areas of concern.

Here is the warning.

State recreational water quality officials today advise the public to be aware of potential pollution from possible septic system failures in ocean swimming waters along parts of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is experiencing extreme high tides caused by a low-pressure system that may have inundated septic system drain fields or caused sewage line breaks at homes in certain areas. The public should avoid swimming in waters near exposed pipes, and should be particularly cautious in the following areas:

  • Rodanthe – ocean waters near Beacon Road, along GA Kohler Court, and near Ocean Drive.
  • Buxton – ocean waters along Tower Circle.

While state officials do not have laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the water, there is an increased chance that contamination is present in the areas identified, and that those swimming have an increased chance of adverse health effects. Wastewater exposure can cause adverse health effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and skin infections, the public is advised to avoid bodily contact with these waters.

Residents and visitors should avoid swimming in these waters until tidal conditions subside and bacteriological testing indicates sample results within state and Environmental Protection Agency’s standards. Testing will begin as soon as the area is accessible, and the public will be notified by press release as test results become available.

Recreational water quality officials sample 215 sites throughout the coastal region, most of them on a weekly basis from April to October. Testing continues on a reduced schedule during the rest of the year when waters are colder.

For more information on the N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program or to a view a map of testing sites, visit the program’s website, and follow the program’s Twitter feed.





County Dare, North Carolina
Dare County Tourism Board

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Visitors Bureau will hold a public meeting to review the plans for an Outer Banks Event Center. The meeting will take place on Monday, June 6, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Keeper’s Galley building at Haven on the Banks, 115 Dove Street, Nags Head North Carolina 27959.

Still in the conceptual phase, the Event Center is intended to provide suitable and flexible space for year-round events, concerts, sports, meetings, smaller tradeshows, galas and any number of other uses. Learn more about the benefits for visitors and residents and how the Event Center is planned to complement the new Soundside boardwalk that is being designed.

Staff will be on hand to answer any questions. For additional information, please visit our Event Center FAQ page.



  • Bill

    If you think about it, the Outer Banks is one big septic tank. More building means more sewage.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 6:31 pm
  • surf123

    The ocean has not been a stagnant pool of water the last several days. I have a hard time believing that whatever came out of the disturbed septic tanks is swirling around in the shore break. Just take a look at the debris field from the two houses. If this was the sound or standing water away from the beach then I’d be concerned.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 9:27 pm
  • Just sayin

    Debris in the water may be of greater concern.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 4:48 am
  • Skip Saunders

    Be careful about house, deck and oceanfront stairs/walkway debris in the water for the next few weeks as well if you do get in the ocean or even the sound. It’ll take awhile for that stuff to clear out and find beaches to land on. Floating pilings and beams are particularly hazardous to boats in the sounds after some storms.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 7:40 am
  • Josh

    Fourth paragraph:
    While state officials do not have laboratory confirmation that disease-causing organisms are in the water…

    Do we consider this misinformation or disinformation since the article is speculation?

    People need empirical data, not assumptions.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 7:41 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    No Josh, it is not disinformation. It is a warning that people should probably take seriously. As the article states, test results will be made public as soon as they are available. By your logic, there would be no hurricane warnings on OBX until the storm actually struck our area.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 9:14 am
  • reeeeey

    People crack me up. Surf123, it’ll be swirling around in your mouth if you go swimming in those areas. Enough said.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 3:12 pm
  • Daniel kerlakian

    Mark, Did someone at DEQ provide these locations or was it based on the fact that homes at these locations are in front of the dunes and experiencing overwash? If provided by DEQ, can you provide the name of the source? Thanks.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 6:55 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    DEQ identified those locations in its press release.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 10:28 pm
  • Breynn

    Debris is being reported in Oregon Inlet and the Sound. Yes, Bill, the OBX is a giant sewer. Sad really. Nags Head and CSI did a fantastic study several years ago about the ground and septic. I can’t believe that they continue to build and install more tanks given the results. I would have thought very serious discussion about sewer plants, additions or expansions would be hot topics.

    Friday, May 13 @ 12:33 pm
  • Steven

    The outer banks certainly is turning septic with the change of demographic over the last ten years.
    Tourism was healthy, now it’s utterly destructive

    Monday, May 16 @ 6:10 am
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