Swim Guide failures prompt Sound Rivers investigation

Neuse River Watershed, Sanitary Sewer Overflows, Sound Rivers, Water Quality

Posted on July 13th, 2023

Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register with the DNA testing kit at Slocum Creek in Havelock.

For the past six weeks, Slocum Creek in Havelock has failed to meet recreational water-quality standards. Now Water Quality Specialist Taylor Register is delving into the issue, looking for the source of Slocum Creek’s pollution.

“(Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop) Sam and I have been spending a lot of time trying to narrow down any potential causes. In addition to my weekly Swim Guide testing at this site, I’ve started collecting other water-quality parameters so that we can develop baseline results for Slocum Creek,” Taylor said. “So far, we know for certain that there are extremely high levels of fecal contamination in Slocum Creek that is also causing hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen). Our next step is to try and figure out the source of this contamination.” 

While Sound Rivers reported the high levels of E. coli in Slocum Creek for consecutive weeks to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, and NCDEQ did investigate, staff was unable to identify an obvious source of the pollution. Sound Rivers is now taking its investigation a step farther with DNA testing.

Taylor took samples this week that will be analyzed for DNA — finding out whether it’s human or animal, and which species of animal, will provide a clear starting point to determine the source and how it gets into Slocum Creek. Taylor said she’s leaning toward human contamination based on Havelock’s past issues with sanitary sewer overflows and the need for the state to intervene to fix the town’s sewage problems, however, regardless of source, the issue needs to be addressed.

“With Slocum Creek being the only water access open to the public in the Havelock area, we are trying to do whatever we can to get to the bottom of this so residents have a safe place to enjoy their local waterway,” she said.

DNA results should be returned within a few weeks. Updates will be posted to the website.

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