Sampling confirms Slocum Creek pollution source

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

Posted on February 15th, 2024

Water samples from Slocum Creek upstream and downstream of Wolf Pit Branch pointed to the small tributary as the source of pollution.

A round of testing after substantial rain has confirmed the source of pollution of Slocum Creek in Havelock.

On Tuesday, Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register collected water samples throughout the southwest prong of the creek to get post-rain data.

“We’ve had a pretty strong feeling that the bacteria in the creek is directly influenced by heavy rain events. However, this has been a huge gap in our year-round data so far, mainly because we’ve had a drier than usual winter for this area,” Taylor said.

Braving strong winds and cold weather, Taylor took samples from the land at more accessible locations and paddled up the creek by kayak to the less accessible sampling sites.

Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register collects a water sample on Slocum Creek.

On Wednesday, Taylor said the results confirm what she and Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop have been thinking for some time now: the source of fecal bacteria in the southwest prong of Slocum Creek is coming out of Wolf Pit Branch and emptying directly into the main stem of the creek.

“All of our upstream samples came back clean, but samples taken inside of Wolf Pit Branch, as well as all of our downstream samples, came back off the charts for enterococci bacteria,” she said. “This data trend matches what we’ve seen in dry conditions, but with how high these numbers are post-rain, we imagine the rain is causing some pretty significant runoff into the creek. … That area supposedly has no city sewer lines, so Sam and I are fairly confident that it’s from failing septic systems.” 

Sound Rivers has been investigating the source of the pollution since summer of 2023, when weekly testing for Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program continually showed levels of bacteria in Slocum Creek that were well above state and federal standards for recreational water quality.

Taylor and Sam are partnering with the City of Havelock next week for a listening session, “Water Quality & Recreation at Slocum Creek.” The public is invited to this town hall-style event slated for 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center in Havelock. For more information about the event, call 252-444-6400. The event will also be aired through Facebook Live on the City of Havelock’s Facebook page.

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Taylor took samples at the hard-to-reach locations via kayak.

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