‘Exposure to levels of E. coli this high is a problem for public health:’ Pollution concerns rise in Lenoir County

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KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — There are many stream sites across Eastern North Carolina where workers with the environmental group Sound Rivers monitor water quality.

Recently riverkeepers discovered high levels of E. coli bacteria in a Lenoir County stream. This indicates there is untreated waste in the waterways. 

This is an issue because these streams feed into other bodies of water. Sound Rivers reached out to DEQ to do further investigation. But there’s a catch, Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper, Jill Howell explained.

“We can’t know if DEQ has actually investigated if they’ve been out to the site, what they’ve done to investigate in terms of water quality monitoring or where they looked,” Howell said.

(Ariana Kraft, WNCT photo)

9OYS reached out to DEQ for comment. The public information officer says the agency is limited to what they can offer based on House Bill 366. This law states that complaints against agricultural operations and all other records accumulated with the investigation are confidential unless and until a determination of violation has occurred.

Howell sees this as a transparency issue for public health.

“It’s not just our hands that are tied, DEQ’s hands are tied,” she said. “This is a result of a law passed by the general assembly so the agency is just you know abiding by this rule.”

We will continue to follow this pollution investigation and bring you updates as we get them.

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