WASHINGTON, N.C. — Sound Rivers’ year-round water-quality testing results for December are in, and five of the 13 sites tested failed this month.

“We took our water samples at the very beginning of yesterday’s significant rain event, so please note that the results might be different and bacteria levels might be higher now that there’s been a significant rain,” said Samantha Krop, Sound Rivers’ Neuse Riverkeeper.

Sites are monitored for E. coli bacteria in freshwater and enterococci bacteria in brackish or salt water, both of which can cause an increased risk of gastrointestinal illness and skin infections in both humans and their pets. Sites are given a pass/fail designation based on federal and state water-quality standards.

In the Neuse River watershed, Buffaloe Road canoe launch in Raleigh, Clayton River Walk, Kinston’s N.C. Highway 11 boat ramp and Midyette Street in Oriental all failed to meet recreation water-quality standards this month. On the Tar-Pamlico, the waterfront in Washington also failed.

This scaled-down version of the popular recreational water-quality program, Swim Guide, will run until Memorial Day 2023, when the summer program restarts. Sound Rivers tests more than 50 sites from Memorial Day to Labor Day, letting the public know where it’s safe to swim.

“We know that recreation in our waterways is not limited to the summer months, so we wanted to provide water-quality information all year round,” said Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeepr Jill Howell.

Currently water samples are being taken and tested from public-access points at Falls Lake and Buffaloe Road in Raleigh; the River Walk in Clayton; N.C. Highway 11 boat ramp in Kinston, Port Terminal, Town Common and Wildwood Park in Greenville; Havens Gardens or Washington waterfront and Dinah’s Landing in Washington; Cotton Patch Landing on Blounts Creek; Lawson Creek and Glenburnie parks in New Bern; and off of Midyette Street in Oriental.

The next date results will be released is Jan. 26. They can be found at soundrivers.org/swimguide. To sign up for Swim Guide text alerts, text “SWIM” to 33222 to have results delivered weekly. For results in Spanish, text “NADAR” to 33222.

Based in Raleigh, New Bern and Washington, Sound Rivers has worked for more than 40 years to protect the health of the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers and the communities that rely on them. The two watersheds cover nearly a quarter of North Carolina.

Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program is sponsored by Grady-White Boats and The Greenville Rotary Club. For more information, visit soundrivers.org.