Pollution source evades detection

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Stormwater Issues, Water Quality

Posted on December 7th, 2023

This Kinston outfall has been identified as the location where pollution is entering the Neuse River.

The source of ongoing Neuse River pollution continues to evade Sound Rivers, the City of Kinston and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

Sound Rivers began an investigation in August after successive Swim Guide results from the same site came back with extremely elevated levels of E. coli. Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop came across a likely source: a large stormwater outfall from the city, upstream from the Swim Guide site. She reported it to city officials, who identified the issue.

“Days after our initial report, city staff found one leak — extrusion of sewage from a terracotta pipe — into the stormwater system. They did a temporary fix on that area, and additional smoke testing there showed the problem at that location is (at least for now) resolved,” Sam said.

However, further testing showed a continuing problem.

“Sound Rivers’ sampling data from as recently as the end of last week indicated that levels leaving the outfall were at 866 MPN,” Sam said. “This indicates that, while one leak was identified and addressed, there is at least one other issue in the sewer system that is contributing to this contamination in the stormwater outfall.”

Sam and Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register met with NCDEQ this week, which is continuing to monitor the situation and work with Kinston to identify a source.

“The city has been working since Sound Rivers’ original report before thanksgiving to conduct dye testing and use TV video to identify possible leaks throughout the extensive sewer system network,” Sam said, adding, however, that neither NCDEQ nor the city have issued a press release to alert the public about the ongoing sewage spill.

“It’s worth noting that I often see folks fishing and hanging out in this area when I go out there,” Sam said.

More samples were collected from the location during today’s Swim Guide sample run.  

Bluish water flows from the outfall.

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