Crowd turns out for Sound Rivers-Havelock town hall

Education, Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Outreach, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Sound Rivers, Stormwater Issues, Water Quality

Posted on February 22nd, 2024

More than 80 people attended the joint listening session hosted by the City of Havelock, and featuring Sound Rivers.

A crowd turned out for the joint listening session held by Sound Rivers and the City of Havelock on Tuesday night.

“It was great. We had a good turnout, somewhere around 80 people, and there was a mix of local officials from Havelock and neighboring communities. A lot of fisherfolk were there and people with concerns about where they live in Havelock,” said Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop.

Havelock Mayor Will Lewis kicked off the “Water Quality and Recreation at Slocum Creek,” listening session, then handed over the microphone to Havelock Public Utilities Director Rick Day, who spoke about the efforts the city has underway to update its sewer system, and how and why the recent sewage spills have occurred.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop addresses the gathered crowd at the Havelock Tourist & Event Center.

“He talked about building workarounds around problem areas, changing out old pipes for new. He got into some of the wonky details about how a city deals with this stuff,” Sam said. “It was great to hear all the ways the city is going about fixing the problems, so I think a lot of people walked away feeling more hopeful than when they walked in.”

Sam followed up with a presentation about Sound Rivers’ investigation into the ongoing pollution on Slocum Creek, and how she and Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register spent days out in the field, eventually narrowing down the source to Wolf Pit Branch and possibly failing septic systems in the area.

After Sam’s presentation, Mayor Lewis fielded questions from the audience.

“There were tons of good questions: the safety of recreating on Slocum Creek; if it’s OK to kayak, if it’s OK to eat fish, what do we do now that we’ve identified a source, how to tell the difference between a septic and a sewer system problem. There was a lot of interest around our sampling,” Sam said. “We talked about the long road ahead, and the city committed to exploring ways to communicate what’s going on with the creek to the public — transparency is key.”

Sam said it was a great event, one she hopes to have replicated in other municipalities experiencing similar issues.

Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman was there to assist and talk to folks about Sound Rivers’ work.

“I cannot give the City of Havelock enough kudos,” she said. “The fact that they host these town halls at all is a really cool thing to do, and that they’re willing to take these hard topics on — I think Havelock is awesome for doing a thing like this.” If you missed the event, you watch a recording of it here, on the City of Havelock’s Facebook page.

Read some of the media coverage at PRE, WCTI, New Bern Sun Journal and WITN.

Watch Sam talk about what Riverkeepers do in the short clip below:

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