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Sound Rivers launches 4th year of Swim Guide

Swim Guide returns with the arrival of Memorial Day weekend.

The environmental nonprofit Sound Rivers is launching a fourth year of the public service alerting people to where it’s safe to swim in local waterways, from the Raleigh-Durham area to the Pamlico Sound.

“For those contemplating getting out on the water, it gives them confidence to participate in swimming, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding and all other forms of recreation — and it may even inform them of places to recreate they didn’t know existed,” said Clay Barber, Sound Rivers’ environmental projects coordinator.

This year, 46 popular recreation sites along the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico river basins will be sampled weekly by a slew of volunteers. Samples will be tested for the presence of E. coli, which can cause an increased risk of gastrointestinal illness and skin infections for both humans and their pets. Sites will be given a pass/fail designation based on results that meet or exceed federal and state water-quality standards.

“Summertime is a super-popular, water-based recreation season. People are out on the water, and we want to keep them informed about possible dangers, as well as help them plan the safest outing they can have,” Barber said.

Eighteen of the 46 Swim Guide sampling sites are located in the Tar-Pamlico River basin: at Rocky Mount — Tar River Reservoir and Battle Park; at River Road near Tarboro; at Greenville — Town Common, Wildwood Park, Port Terminal and Yankee Hall; at Washington — Mason’s Landing, Washington waterfront, Haven’s Garden Boat Ramp, Chocowinity Bay at Cypress Landing, Swan Point, Broad Creek at Pamlico Plantation, Blounts Bay and Blounts Creek at Cotton Patch Landing; at Bath — Bonner Point and the Quarterdeck; and Belhaven — Pungo River at Woodstock Point.

Results will be released to the public on Friday afternoons throughout the summer at soundrivers.org/swimguide, through local media and via text. To sign up for 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 is celebrating 40 years of monitoring and protecting the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Rivers’ watersheds that cover nearly a quarter of North Carolina. Its mission to preserve the health and beauty of the river basin through environmental justice.

Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide program is sponsored by Grady-White Boats, the Water-Quality Monitoring Fund in memory of Gene Pate, UNC-Lenoir Healthcare, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, Melinda Vann and David Silberstein and other generous donors.

For more information, visit soundrivers.org.