RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A winter-time check of North Carolina rivers found 11 sites tested clear for fecal bacteria in the last week, according to a group that tests water year-round.

The last testing cycle before spring revealed that nearly a dozen areas in central and eastern North Carolina were below the EPA’s standard for E. coli bacteria in recreational waters.

The latest results were a drastic improvement from January when 8 of 13 sites failed testing. River spots that failed last month included the Neuse River watershed, the Buffaloe Road canoe launch in Raleigh, the Clayton River Walk and Kinston’s N.C. 11 boat ramp.

The group Sound Rivers surveys more than 50 sites in the summer — and will start with a more detailed report starting on Memorial Day.

Each Friday, the group issues a year-round version of a swim guide that monitors sites for E. coli bacteria in fresh water and enterococci bacteria in brackish or salt water.

For the winter, water samples are tested from Falls Lake and Buffaloe Road in Raleigh; the River Walk in Clayton; Port Terminal and Town Common in Greenville; Washington waterfront and Dinah’s Landing in Washington; Cotton Patch Landing on Blounts Creek; Lawson Creek and Glenburnie parks in New Bern; and off Midyette Street in Oriental.

Based in Raleigh, New Bern and Washington, Sound Rivers has been around for more than 40 years seeking to protect the health of the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers.