Monthly Swim Guide sampling starts this week

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Tar-Pamlico Watershed, Water Quality

Posted on September 28th, 2023

Wayne Community College Science Department Chair Ralph Benedetto shows Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz (middle) and Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman (right) how the biology department tests water samples.

Swim Guide’s peak season lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day, when many people are on the water swimming, boating, and fishing. Sound Rivers is excited to announce that we will continue the program year-round for a second year. 

Sound Rivers will be conducting monthly water-quality monitoring at 17 public access recreational sites across the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse river basins, as well as partnering with Wayne Community College science professors for four more in the Goldsboro area — filling a gap in Sound Rivers’ sampling on the Neuse. Sites on the Neuse include Rolling View at Falls Lake, Buffaloe Road and Poole Road in Raleigh, Clayton River Walk, Busco Beach and the Neuse River boat ramp in Goldsboro, Cliffs of the Neuse State Park and the boat access in Silver Springs, N.C. Highway 11 boat ramp in Kinston, Lawson Creek in New Bern, Slocum Creek in Havelock and Midyette Street in Oriental. On the Tar-Pamlico, Stith-Talbert Park in Rocky Mount, Wildwood Park and Port Terminal in Greenville and Havens Gardens and Pamlico Plantation in Washington will be tested.

Sound Rivers Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz said the scaled-down, year-round Swim Guide serves two purposes.

“It’s still important information we’re able to provide to the public, because people are recreating, boating and fishing all year-round,” Emily said. “It also allows us to keep an eye on problem sites throughout the year.”

A peek behind the scenes of Swim Guide sampling.

Slocum Creek failed to meet recreational water-quality standards 86% of the times it was tested during the regular Swim Guide season, prompting an ongoing Sound Rivers investigation into the source of pollution. The latter half of the season, Kinston’s Highway 11 boat ramp also failed multiple times. On the Tar-Pamlico, Havens Gardens and Pamlico Plantation had sporadic results, as well.

The partnership with Wayne Community College’s science department will provide much-needed coverage of an area of the Neuse previously not included in Swim Guide. The testing of the four sites in the Silver Springs and Goldsboro area will be part of the curriculum for biology classes.

“They were very excited about their data being used,” Emily said. “It’s kind of a perfect match, since we had that gap in Swim Guide.”

September’s Swim Guide results will be released on Friday. Just like during the summer months, results can be found on the Swim Guide page here. Swim Guide sampling in the coming months will happen on the last Thursday of each month; results will be released the following day.

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