Riverkeeper Reports: Heavy metal, turbidity testing on the Upper Neuse

Environmental, Sound Rivers

Posted on February 2nd, 2023

Where Martin Branch meets Lick Creek, a higher concentration of sediment can be clearly seen after a rain this week.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop was in the field this week, testing in places where sediment is inundating waterways after a rain.

She and intern William Wallace headed out to Lick Creek in Durham, an already impaired creek further threatened by sediment runoff from land cleared to make way for many developments currently under construction. At the confluence of Martin Branch and Lick Creek near Kemp Road, the issue was apparent, according to Sam.

“The turbidity reading on Lick Creek went up over three times after the sediment-filled Martin Branch met it,” Sam said.

Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop takes a turbidity reading on Lick Creek.

Sam has been working closely with community members in the Lick Creek area, and urging Durham City Council members to lay off approving more developments until better sedimentation and erosion control ordinances can be put in place. The erosion of sediment from construction sites into Lick Creek and other small waterways — turning the water a “tomato soup” red — is problematic for several reasons. The very fine clay soil easily erodes and doesn’t easily settle, remaining suspended in the water. This can harm aquatic life and provide attachment places for other pollutants, particularly heavy metals and bacteria.

Lick Creek is also a tributary of Falls Lake, a major source of drinking water.

Sam and Lick Creek-area residents celebrated a win earlier this month, after the Durham City Council declined to approve the construction of another large housing development, citing water-quality issues.

Sam followed up her testing with a call to North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to report the sediment violation.

Sam and William followed up the Lick Creek testing with another field excursion, this time take samples to be tested for heavy metals at a site in Wake Forest.

Intern William Wallace and Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop in the field.






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