May 12, 2021

Media Contact: Larry Hill, Eastern Regional Public Information Officer, (757) 683-9175


Public may resume recreational activities on the water bodies in this vicinity

(SUFFOLK, Va.)— The Virginia Department of Health is no longer recommending an abundance of caution when recreating in the vicinity of Shingle Creek and from its confluence with the Nansemond River (below Route 32 and Main Street) to the confluence of the Western Branch of the Nansemond River (near Sack Point), located in the City of Suffolk, Virginia. Recent laboratory results indicate a return to bacteria levels typical for these water bodies.

On May 1, the public was advised to avoid contact with waters in this vicinity due to the discovery of a damaged sewer force main, which was leaking sewage into Shingle Creek. During the repairs, it was determined that the estimated release volume was much lower than initially estimated. The City of Suffolk reported that the force main was repaired and the leak stopped on Thursday afternoon (May 6).

Water testing May 10 indicates the waterbodies are no longer affected by the sewage release, however bacteria levels of Shingle Creek and its confluence with the Nansemond River tend to be higher than state thresholds for primary contact (swimming) use. Bacteria levels in any natural body of water are variable and generally increase following rainfall events due to runoff. When participating in recreational activities (including activities like boating and fishing) some caution should always be taken. VDH recommends the following steps to prevent illness while recreating in any natural waters by:

  • Avoiding contact with any area of the waterbody where there is water with a foul odor, dead or dying fish, or discolored water.
  • Avoid swimming for a few days after heavy rainfall; bacteria levels are likely to be high and disease-causing organisms are more likely to be present after rainfall due to pollution from land runoff and other sources.
  • Avoiding recreational activities that may result in ingestion of water in natural waterways for at least three days following rain events.
  • Whenever you have recreated in natural waterways, promptly wash exposed areas with soap and water.
  • If you have underlying health conditions that affect your immune system, you may be more susceptible to infections while recreating because there is likely to be some level of bacteria, parasites and possibly viruses present in natural bodies of water.
  • If you experience adverse health effects after contact with the waterbody, seek medical care and notify your health practitioner of the water exposure.