WASHINGTON, N.C. — Four sites on the Lower Neuse and one on the Tar-Pamlico failed the Swim Guide test this week, but recent rain could be impacting water quality at other locations.

“If there’s a hard rain in the 24 hours between when we take our samples and when get results, our results may not be accurate,” said Clay Barber, Sound Rivers’ program director. “Since we know rain increases runoff into our waterways, it’s good practice to stay out of the water in the 24 hours after a significant rainfall event.”

Brice’s Creek, Lawson Park, Upper Broad Creek at Blackbeard Sailing Club and Slocum Creek in Havelock did not meet recreational water-quality standards on the Lower Neuse; on the Tar-Pamlico, Pamlico Plantation, just east of Washington, also failed.

When sites fail, boaters, swimmers and their pets should avoid the water or practice caution at these sites, as exposure to bacteria-laden waters comes with an increased risk of gastrointestinal illness and skin infections.

Swim Guide is an international water-quality program conducted locally by Sound Rivers, an environmental nonprofit 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 52 popular recreation sites along the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins, from the Raleigh-Durham area to the Pamlico Sound. The samples are then tested for the bacteria E. coli by Sound Rivers’ staff, and results are released to the public, providing an easy way to find out where it’s safe to swim.

Sound Rivers sample data provides a general guide to the health of the waterways within the vicinity of collected samples and should only be used for informational purposes. This data does not guarantee the sampled area is safe for swimming at all times. E. coli levels can change at any time and will typically increase after rain events.

Sixteen sites are tested each week in the Lower Neuse River basin: Oak Bluff Road and Highway 11 boat ramp near Kinston; 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-two 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.

Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program is sponsored by the Water-Quality Fund in memory of Gene Pate, Grady-White Boats, Cummins, Edward Jones – Rod Cantrell, Cypress Landing, UNC Lenoir Health Care, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, Greenville (evening) Rotary Club, 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.