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SUSSEX COUNTY, Del.- The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has issued water quality advisories for Sussex County bay beaches due to potentially harmful bacteria.

According to DNREC, high levels of enterococcus–an organism that signals the presence of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses–were found during sampling at Broadkill and Slaughter beaches. DNREC says the numbers found were above recreational water limits, so advisories are in place until further samples can be retrieved. 

“If that’s the advisory from the officials it’s important that people heed that,” says Denise Cosenzo. “Because it’s a health concern for people and also for pets.”

Enterococcus is commonly found in fecal matter, and the Surfrider Foundation says its not uncommon to find the bacteria this time of year.

“We as Surfrider Foundation encourage waiting 24-48 hours to swim in the ocean/bay after a significant rain event,” says Delaware Chair Kevin Chandler. “We typically see a spike this time of year related to horseshoe crabs mating periods, although untreated waste and stormwater runoff are big contributors as well.” 

DNREC says heavy surf and high winds make it difficult to retrieve representative water samples, and sometimes winds churn up naturally occurring bacteria, in which case swimming advisories are not listed.

The advisories are set to expire on Friday. For more on DNREC’s water quality reports, click here.