Riverkeeper hunting source of Kinston pollution

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

Posted on November 16th, 2023

White fungus can be seen atop the water at the Kinston outfall into the Neuse River.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop is searching for answers as to why a Swim Guide site in Kinston continues to have extremely high levels of bacteria.

Halfway through this summer’s Swim Guide season, test results of water samples taken at the N.C. Highway 11 boat ramp in Kinston starting coming back with elevated levels of E. coli, which has continued into the scaled-down, year-round monthly testing.

Last week, Sam set out to investigate an area of concern: a large stormwater outfall pipe flowing directly into the Neuse River.

“I noticed that this stormwater outfall is flowing pretty significantly with what looked like sewage, even though there’s been no rain recently,” Sam said. “I reported it to the City and took a bacteria sample. It came back off the charts (for E. coli). They let me know on Friday morning that they did find a sewage leak upstream and were able to fix it.”

However, when Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register visited the site on Wednesday, she found more of the same: odorous, bluish-green water, topped with white fungus.

“It does not seem to me like it’s been resolved,” Sam said. “It’s still clearly a bunch of sewage water in the floodway, and the white-looking fungus is consistent with sewage fungus. NCDEQ has been notified, but I’m concerned that they haven’t been out to the site yet.”

Wednesday’s water samples’ results came back Thursday: water from upstream of the outfall contained little bacteria (11 MPN); water samples at the outfall were again off the charts for bacteria (>2,419.6 MPN); water downstream of the outfall had elevated levels of bacteria (186.6 MPN).

The outfall is located upstream of the Kinston Swim Guide sampling site. Water quality at the site suddenly deteriorated at the beginning of August.

“That site is directly downstream from where the spill was happening,” Sam said. “Our Swim Guide samples could have been picking up another pollution source, but, honestly, I don’t think that’s likely.”

The water flowing from the large outfall is bluish-green and smells like sewage.

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