Riverkeeper: extremely elevated levels of E. Coli found in Lenoir Co. stream

The IDEXX tray showing the E. coli results of >2419.6 MPN from the sample taken at a stream off of Sandy Foundation Road near Deep Run in Lenoir County.

Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Katy Hunt found elevated levels of E. coli in a stream near Deep Run, in Lenoir County, this week, a fact that may be attributable to a hog operation upstream. The site, located on Sandy Foundation Road near two industrial hog operations, is one the Riverkeeper monitors regularly. On Tuesday, there was a marked change in the appearance of the sampled water, as well as a strong odor in the area.

“I got out of the truck, and the smell of hog waste hit me immediately,” Hunt said. “There was a brown, oily sheen on the water, and it left a brownish-orange residue in my sampling bottle.”

Hunt said she notified the North Carolina Division of Water Resources about what she’d found and was told an investigator would visit the site.

On Wednesday, Hunt’s preliminary testing of the water sample for the bacteria E. coli turned up elevated results — much more elevated than state requirements for recreational water quality. The state standard for calls for less than 235 parts per million of E. coli in a given sample; Hunt’s results measured an MPN (most probable number) of more than 2,400 ppm.

Hunt confirmed the Division of Water Resources has launched an investigation. The agency releases no information to the public unless (and until) a Notice of Violation is issued by the state against those responsible for pollution.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

A brown, oily sheen (left side of photo) could be seen floating on the surface of a stream near Deep Run.