Two Tar-Pam sites fail to meet water-quality standards

Published 3:41 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

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WASHINGTON [July 21, 2023] — Two sites failed to meet recreational water-quality standards in the Tar-Pamlico watershed this week: Pamlico Plantation in Washington and Wright’s Creek in Belhaven.

Results were not available for another three sites: Sunset Park in Rocky Mount, Port Terminal in Greenville and Plum Point in Bath.

“Water-quality might seem good right now, but be on the lookout for fish kills on the lower Tar-Pamlico and Neuse rivers. With this continuous hot weather, there’s very little oxygen in the water, which could lead to fish kills,” said Clay Barber, Sound Rivers’ program director. “If you see a fish kill, we want to know about it, so get in touch.”

Barber urged people to avoid recreating in any water that is discolored, odorous or where dead fish are found — and keep pets out of it, too.

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

Each week, a team of Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide volunteers gathers water samples at 54 popular recreation sites from the Piedmont to the Pamlico Sound. Sound Rivers’ staff tests 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.

Twenty-three of the 54 Swim Guide sampling sites are located 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, 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 or text “SWIM” to 33222 for weekly water-quality text updates. For more information about Sound Rivers, visit