MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A popular Mecklenburg County beach, which opened earlier this year, has been closed down "effective immediately" after higher levels of bacteria were found in testing.
According to county officials, tests from the water at Ramsey Creek Beach "indicate higher than acceptable bacteria levels, and as a result Mecklenburg County is closing the beach effective immediately until the levels return to normal."
A test of water samples from Wednesday showed 450 fecal coliform units per 100 milliliters of water. The maximum acceptable level is 200 units, but usually it's much lower than that. There were only 7 units found in water samples taken Monday.
"That's a dramatic increase. We really don't know why," said Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation's Chris Matthews.
Fecal colliform is bacteria found in warm-blooded animals, like humans or geese. County officials say this bacteria does not directly cause illness, but levels this high indicate other bacteria are in the water that can.
County officials do not have a cause for this spike yet, but believe the recent weather may have something to do with it.
"We suspect that what it was, this rain event may have washed material in there that caused the elevated levels," said Rusty Rozzelle, with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.
Officials say they test the water twice a week. This is the first time since the beach opened in May that the results have been higher than the maximum safe level.
Several beach goers were disappointed to learn of the closing. Many planned their day around a beach outing, to cool down from the heat.
"It's going to be extremely hot temperatures. We come here to have family fun and swim," said Carol Poole.
While many families hope the beach reopens for the hot weekend, some are hesitant to jump back in the water.
"Kind of scares you off a little bit. Ever since the Whitewater Center, stuff happened there with the water, started thinking that first thing," said Becca Poole.
Officials took another water sample Friday, and should get the results back Saturday. If the bacteria count returns to an acceptable level, the beach will reopen.