NEW BERN, N.C. — Slocum Creek in Havelock continues to be plagued by water-quality problems. For an eighth week running, water sampled from the site has failed to meet state and federal recreational water quality standards.

All other Lower Neuse sites tested weekly for the Swim Guide program were clear. On the Tar-Pamlico, Pamlico Plantation in Washington and Wright’s Creek in Belhaven also did not meet water-quality standards.

Sound Rivers: Havelock sewage spill of 87,000 gallons is largest ever

As part of an investigation launched last week by Sound Rivers, Neuse Riverkeeper Samantha Krop collected water samples from four sites on the west prong of Slocum Creek this week: all four of the samples came back with high levels of the fecal bacteria enterococci. The Town of Havelock also reported an 87,000-gallon wastewater spill into east prong of the creek on Wednesday and continues to investigate the cause.

“There are a lot of unknowns here, but we’re trying to track down the source of the ongoing pollution on the west prong of the creek, and the spill on the east prong is one piece of a larger picture of ongoing systemic issues in the city’s sewage infrastructure,” Krop said.

The Town of Havelock is currently under a Special Order of Consent with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, which has a deadline of January 2024 to fix the sewage issues.

Slocum Creek is the only water access open to the public in the Havelock area. The risks associated with recreating in water with elevated levels of fecal bacteria are gastrointestinal illness and skin infections for both pets and humans.

Swim Guide is an international water-quality program conducted locally by Sound Rivers, an environmental nonprofit based in Raleigh, New Bern and Washington with a mission to keep North Carolina’s waterways fishable, swimmable and drinkable.

Each week, a team of Sound Rivers’ volunteers gathers water samples at 54 popular recreation sites from the Piedmont to the Pamlico Sound. Sound Rivers’ staff test samples for E. coli in fresh water and enterococci in salt water and pass/fail results are released to the public, providing an easy way to find out where it’s safe to swim.

Seventeen sites are tested each week in the Lower Neuse River basin: Oak Bluff Road and Highway 11 boat ramp near Kinston; Core Creek Landing at Fort Barnwell; Cowpen Landing and Spring Garden boat ramps; Glenburnie Park, Town of Bridgeton Park, Black Beard Sailing Club on upper Broad Creek, Lawson Creek Park, River Bend kayak launch, Trent Woods and Brice’s Creek — all in or near New Bern; the East Street boat ramp in Pollocksville; Slocum Creek boat ramp in Havelock; Rice Creek off the Bay River; and the Midyette Street boat ramp and Sea Harbour Yacht Club at Pierce Creek in Oriental.

Twenty-three sites are tested each week in the Tar-Pamlico River basin: five recreational sites at Lake Royale, near Louisburg; Tar River Reservoir and Battle Park in Rocky Mount; the River

Road boat access near Tarboro; Town Common, Wildwood Park and Port Terminal in Greenville; Yankee Hall at Pactolus; the downtown waterfront, Mason’s Landing and Havens Gardens boat ramp in Washington; Chocowinity Bay at Cypress Landing; Broad Creek at Pamlico Plantation; Blounts Bay and Blounts Creek at Cotton Patch Landing; Dinah’s Landing at Goose Creek State Park; Bonner Point and Plum Point on Bath Creek. This week, data was unavailable for one site: Pungo River at Wright’s Creek, near Belhaven.

Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program is sponsored by the Water-Quality Fund in memory of Gene Pate, Grady-White Boats, Public Radio East, Cummins, UNC Lenoir Health Care, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, UNC Pavel Molchanov Scholars, ECU SECU Public Fellows Internship Foundation, City of Greenville, Lake Royale Property Owners Association, Melinda Vann and David Silberstein, and Wendy and Tim Wilson. To sign up for Swim Guide notifications, go to www.soundrivers.org/swimguide or text “SWIM” to 33222 for weekly water-quality text updates. For more information about Sound Rivers, visit soundrivers.org.