Swim Guide results spark second investigation

Environmental, Neuse River Watershed, Sound Rivers, Swim Guide, Water Quality

Posted on September 14th, 2023

Water-Quality Specialist Taylor Register takes a water sample to send off to be analyzed for DNA.

A second Swim Guide site took a mid-summer turn for the worse, prompting Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop and Water-Quality Specialist Taylor Register to open another investigation.

For the first part of the summer, water samples taken at the N.C. Highway 11 boat ramp at Kinston came back well within state recreational water-quality standards for E. coli. However, that changed the first week of August.

“We noticed that the Kinston boating access was coming back with some unusually high numbers compared to the rest of our lower Neuse sites,” Taylor said. “It was definitely a red flag for us to see these high, failing results seemingly come out of nowhere.”

When Slocum Creek in Havelock failed to meet recreational water-quality standards for E. coli early in the weekly Swim Guide sampling, and continued to fail weekly, the two began looking into the source of pollution in July — its source was determined to be human; where it’s entering the creek is still being investigated. The Kinston site, however, has recently beaten Slocum Creek for E. coli levels, according to Taylor.

“Sam and I have looked into several satellite maps and online resources to try and determine potential sources of bacterial pollution. We have it narrowed down to about three different places, so we decided the next step to our investigation would be to collect a DNA sample for source analysis,” Taylor said. “We should get those results back in a couple of weeks, but they will point us towards whether the pollution is animal or human in origin.”

Then, it will be a matter of narrowing down potential source locations.

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